U of T helps Ryerson research

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By Dominique Blain

Ryerson students struggling with their essays can now rely on better-educated University of Toronto students for help.

The extended hours of the library’s Ask a Librarian LIVE online service are being manned by three U of T graduate students.

Ask a Librarian LIVE is a chatroom that allows students to chat with librarians.

Until March 26, the online service will be available Monday through Thursday until midnight, and until 8 p.m. on Fridays.

Diane Granfield, the coordinator of the library’s virtual reference services, said Ask a Librarian has steadily increased in popularity since its creation in September 2001.

Last February, 142 students logged on for help, while 218 used the service this February.

If students find the later service useful, the library may adopt the extended hours on a full-time basis next year.

Granfield described the work done by the students as “a kind of informal internship. We’re thinking ahead and maybe we’ll set up something more formal [in the future].”

She said combining the quasi-internships with additional hours is a “win-win situation.”

One of the hired students is Nelia Raposo, a Ryerson journalism graduate, who has been working at the library’s reference desk since September.

“It’s different to be on the other side of the desk,” Raposo said. “I can [sympathize] with students. I know that when I was a student at Ryerson most of my homework was done at night because you just don’t have time during the day.”

Raposo says the chat software the library uses “reminds me of MSN. It’s pretty easy to use.” The software allows the librarian to “drag people around” through online journals and the library’s licensed database.

Still, the software has experienced challenges, most noticeable when servicing students using Macintosh computers, Granfield said. As it is, she said the software has “mainly worked.”

Because the service uses a simple online software, the U of T students working the extended hours will get to work from home.

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