Internet Keeps Librarians Busy


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\"``We figured, `We\'re going to be out of business in 10 years\' because people can look up things for themselves at home,\'\' says Long, who supervises the Ready Reference call-in service at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. ``But people call us more now and they expect more because they figure we can just hit a button and - bllllllip! - we\'ll get the answer.\'\'Ready Reference fielded 138,000 questions last year, up from 120,000 in 1996.

``I had one today. A lady called and said, `I want to know how my sister died.\' And I asked, you know, `Well, didn\'t your family tell you?\' And she said, `Well, can\'t you just punch in something and it will just come up?\'\'\' Long says.

Betsy Hoage, manager of InfoNow, the reference service of the Los Angeles Public Library, says many customers are overwhelmed when they go online and want help from someone familiar with computers.

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