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28 Apr 2011 / Julie

after a decade, moves to end (and save) an important library service

QandANJ logoEarlier this month the New Jersey State Librarian announced that QandANJ.org was to be sunsetted June 30th.

Until I read Pete Bromberg’s eloquent and biting post I was having trouble finding the words to discuss what was happening in my beloved home state. Please take a moment to read what he has to say.

Building on what Pete said, here are my own 2¢:

QandANJ, and other services around the world like it, are tremendously valuable for the libraries who provide it, librarians who staff it and customers and students who use it. QandANJ provides reliable information access to customers, understanding that questions don’t have business hours. In a time of decreased library hours and staffing, QandANJ ensures that people get what they need even when their library can’t. QandANJ provides opportunities for staff to increase their technology, interpersonal and customer service skills in an online environment – one that is only going to be more important and ever-increasing in the coming years/decades. Not to mention the staggeringly awesome benefit to citizenss, QandANJ provides the same benefits as my own service:

  • provides a positive return on small investment of staff hours for e.g. small institutions provide a few hours of staff time in return for 24/7 access;
  • reaches new users and bring them into library services;
  • supports customer preferences for online engagement;
  • gives visibility for other library services through service provider referrals;
  • increases usage of online databases: enhanced access to experts facilitates student and lifelong learner use of online databases;
  • provides consistent service across K-12 and post-secondary sector and addressing the needs of the lifelong learner;
  • creates collaborative partnerships within and across sectors e.g. multi-sector bundle, resource sharing, building the shared services of our library community;
  • encourages innovation within a supported environment; centralized coordination and training means libraries don’t have to provide administrative or technical support;
  • offers professional development for service providers: a collaborative environment facilitates sharing of expertise;
  • serves as risk avoidance in the event of a disaster, QandANJ provides a way for libraries to maintain access to reference service if library service is compromised

I might even argue that because of the way NJ municipalities are set up, QandANJ provides much-needed cohesion of services throughout the state.

You only have to look at librarian and customer comments to see the immense value this service has to both the citizens of New Jersey but to the world. In the last 10 years QandANJ has been a model for other services around the globe. Maryland AskUsNow!, launched in 2003, took cues from and brainstormed with the leadership of QandANJ and enjoys continued success because of the intellectual partnership between QandANJ and other state- and province-wide services around the world.

Deciding to end such a valuable, respected, and needed service in the library world today without good reason should be punishable by banishment from the library community.

QandANJ (as well as all vr services, including my own) will always and forever have my support as a library user, library staffer, and citizen of this universe.

Check out the Save QandANJ event on facebook, the QandANJ facebook pageread customer comments on twitter and add your supportive voice here.

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