"Ask Away" Has Stopped Taking Your Questions

This is the day British Columbia's libraries pull the plug on the AskAway! Program, which let patrons from all over the province ask questions of librarians online, in real time, and receive an immediate answer.

The provincial plan for libraries and literacy, set out in Gordon Campbell's 2004 strategic planning document Libraries Without Walls, was to bring the "world within the reach" of anyone with Internet access (and a card to a B.C. library).

Back then, Campbell was optimistic about the potential for digital technologies to promote reading in B.C. He described libraries as "the front lines in the effort to make British Columbia one of the most literate places in the world."

AskAway, launched in 2006, fit Campbell's stated overall goal for Libraries Without Walls, to "facilitate equitable access to information for all British Columbians."

Librarians too have used the service to get a second expert opinion to complement their own when faced with a particularly difficult or specialized question from a patron. The Tyee reports.

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