The Web Library: Building a World Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources

Online companion to the book. Frequently updated: last update = 6-2-06
copyright Nick Tomaiuolo 2004

Chapter Four: Expert, AskA and Virtual Reference

Ask Me Help Desk
An online expert community where you can ask questions in any topic and have them answered for free.  To ask questions or participate in answering them you must register for a free account.

This site, which has been running since 1998, is one of the first large scale projects to utilize the internet community's shared knowledge. Volunteer experts answer your questions.

Ask Jack
From the National American Youth Sport Institute. Users may ask questions or search the site for previously asked questions and answers.

Ask Jeeves You won't necessarily connect with a live expert, but Jeeves often comes up with sites that will answer questions from "how to install a garbage disposal?" to "what is chislic?"

Ask Joan of Art
Specifically for questions on American art. Hosted by the information specialists at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Ask the Bird Expert Not only for breeders and professionals, but for the single bird owner or "newbie" as well.

Educator's Reference Desk
Here you can search or browse an archive of previously answered questions in education theory and practice. Other valuable component of the site include lesson plans, access to the ERIC database, and resource guides.

Free registration required; search or browse 15,000 how-to articles from building pinewood derby cars to laying cobblestones to hanging wallpaper.

A fee based knowledge service. Appropriate for immediate consultations for quick answers or in-depth research reports.

Google Answers A successful fee based model. If you have a question and are willing to pay, try this resource.

Pitsco's Ask an Expert – the Kid Friendly Expert Site connects you with hundreds of  real world experts, ranging from astronauts to zookeepers. These experts have volunteered to answer your questions for free!

Google Groups 
Search for a group that seems relevant to your question or interest, then ask your question. The Google Groups feature is free, but to post comments/questions you need to register (free). This can be a helpful place for obtaining information, but beware -- some of the people who participate in these discussions can be prickly.

“AskA” Resources from Libraries
Bernie Sloan. A list of libraries offering e-mail reference.

Bernie Sloan. A list of collaborative live reference projects.

Chat With a Librarian at the Library of Congress
Monday through Friday 2 to 4 pm Eastern Time except Federal holidays.

Co-East (East of England)  
One of the major AskA projects from the United Kingdom. An FAQ reminds users: The
Ask a Librarian is online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our digital enquiry service is no substitute for a face to face consultation with the librarians at your local reference library, particularly if you need advice on how to research a complex subject, but it is sometimes more convenient.

ELITE: Electronic Library, IT and staff Education Project 
The University of Leicester's report on its remote access reference services.

Google directory list of Ask A Librarian Sites

Internet Public Library  "Ask Us"

Registry of Real-Time Digital Reference Services 
Got Live Reference? Gerry McKiernan (Iowa State University) tracks the libraries that offer this service.


AskA+ Locator
A component of the VRD (Virtual Reference Desk), the AskA+ Locator lists sites that answer questions under subject categories and alphabetically. It is a
database of high-quality "AskA" services designed to link students, teachers, parents and other K-12 community members with experts on the Internet, and includes profiles of each AskA service include identification information (e.g., publisher, e-mail address, contact person, links to services' home pages), scope, target audience, and a general description of the service.

Johnston Memorial School 
Links to 1,300 expert sites from a 1-8th grade school in Canada. 
Certainly not so extensive as Johnston (above), but may include links to experts not included elsewhere.

Searchable Archive of Answers to Difficult Reference Questions

An archive of difficult questions answered by librarians since 1993.

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