What happens if you're cramming for a test, or trying to finish a term paper, and you need some obscure fact about Julius Caesar at 2 o'clock in the morning? You'll have to live without it, right? Not necessarily, according to the L.A. Times.
There's a new online library service called "24/7 Reference" that lets you chat with a live librarian, 24 hours a day. And thanks to a federal grant, it's free.
You simply log on, type in your name, city, email address, and a question. You can chat with the librarian on the right side of your screen, and watch them search for what you're looking for on the left side. The average session takes about 15 minutes. And you get an email transcript of every web page the librarian visited, and every link they accessed, after your session is over. And if your question is really complicated, it might be referred to a specialist who will send you an answer in a day or two. Specialists include art librarians at the Smithsonian, cookery librarians from the California School of Culinary Arts, and librarians that specialize in law and medicine. But don't feel too guilty about bothering a poor, sleep-starved librarian in the middle of the night. They actually work fairly normal hours, in libraries or their homes, from Massachusetts to Hawaii.
If you're interested in the online 24/7 Reference library, jump on your local library web page and click on "Ask the Librarian."