Ask a Librarian Team

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Team ID: 
College / Administrative Unit: 
University Libraries
Date Started: 
June 2013

Through the leadership of Tom Reinsfelder, Reference Librarian at the Mont Alto Campus, the talents and expertise of more than 150 librarians and staff across the Penn State University Libraries’ locations have been harnessed to provide excellent online reference service to patrons anywhere, anytime via chat, email, or text messaging.


In the first semester the service was offered, library faculty and staff had almost 4700 chat reference sessions with patrons and answered approximately 600 email questions. 110 text messages between patrons and library staff were exchanged.

Updated Results:

See this item from (5/28/14)

A service of the University Libraries, where 100-150 library employees work together at all hours of the day and night to provide high quality online assistance to Penn State students, faculty, and staff. In addition, approximately 20% of questions received are from users not affiliated with the university and include individual researchers from Pennsylvania and beyond, employees of businesses and government agencies, and students of high schools or other universities. Between fall 2013 and summer 2015 Penn State’s Ask A Librarian service has logged over 19,500 transactions, including chats, emails, and text messages, and has received many positive reviews from patrons.

Many patrons express their appreciation when prompted to leave a comment after a chat session. Here are just some of the positive notes received during the Spring 2015 semester:

  • [Librarian] was exceptionally helpful. Thank you!!!
  • [Librarian] was very helpful. He got me to where I needed to go, and I was able to accomplish my task.
  • [Librarian] was very prompt in her response and gave me helpful tips for future searches.
  • Saved the day!
  • Easy to talk to, helped me solve my problem in about a minute.
  • The responses were polite and precise. The information was exactly what I was looking for.
  • This is absolutely incredible!!!
  • [Librarian] was an excellent help to my research!! I look forward to going to the PSU online library again!
  • Not only did I receive friendly, helpful responses to my questions/concerns, but I came away with some great new book recommendations, too! This service is great for worrywarts like me who, at 2 a.m., can’t stop wondering if their library books were returned safely. Thank you very much!
  • I felt overwhelmed. but the librarian put me on the right track.
  • [Librarian] was extremely helpful! I got just the service through Chat that I was hoping for.
  • fast accurate help!! Penn state is awesome!!
  • Great feedback and found exactly what I was looking for.
  • Thanks for providing students with quick access to a reference librarian!! It’s just one of those things that makes PSU so special!!!
  • Very helpful, with multiple issues/questions. So much easier than multiple emails back and forth.
  • thanks for quick & efficient handling, most appreciated!
  • It is so nice working with NICE people.
  • They were so helpful and did way more then just answer my question. THANK YOU!!
  • Extremely helpful and very quick. I’m so glad you have this service!
  • Fabulous service! If only all libraries were as efficient
  • Amazingly helpful! I hope students recognize all the work the librarians do!
Contact Person: 
Joseph Salem Jr.
  • Lisa German, Co-Sponsor
  • Jack Sulzer, Co-Sponsor
  • Tom Reinsfelder, Coordinator
  • Amanda Clossen, Marketing
  • Paula Contreras, Training/Evaluation
  • Dolores Fidishun, Training/Evaluation
  • Janet Hughes, Data Analysis/Statistics
  • Binky Lush, Software Implementation
  • Glenn Masuchika, Data Analysis/Statistics
  • Cheryl McCallips, Software Implementation
  • Patricia Pottle, Marketing
  • Shannon Richie, Marketing
  • Helen Smith, Training/Evaluation
  • Russ Hall, Behrend
  • Amanda Maple, Arts & Humanities