Ask a Librarian

The Library of Congress initiated an “Ask A Librarian” service, in June 2002. This service brings the Library’s reference specialists and resources into direct contact with researchers and the general public beyond the Library’s walls. Eighteen of the Library’s reading rooms currently participate in the Ask A Librarian project. Patrons may access the service from a link on the Library’s home page, and then submit their questions to the reading room they feel is most likely to be able to answer it.

The Library of Congress launched the Ask A Librarian project using QuestionPoint reference software that was developed in collaboration with the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) of Dublin, Ohio. The software allows libraries to manage their reference traffic centrally, generate activity reports and statistics, and refer questions to colleagues in-house and experts elsewhere using a shared interface and a dedicated network. QuestionPoint enables reference librarians to take their expertise out onto the web, and to build a worldwide collaborative network of librarians and resources.

Digital Reference Team

The Digital Reference Team (DRT) is group of reference specialists dedicated to exploring the ways in which online tools may be used to promote and enhance the Library of Congress’s programs and services: The DRT responds to reference questions about the Library’s online resources, creates electronic pathfinders and bibliographies, maintains the Virtual Reference Shelf, writes and edits historical features for the Library’s website, and presents a variety of electronic and in-person workshops for members of Congress, educators, librarians, historians and others. Additionally, the DRT is responsible for providing context for and promoting the use of the Library's online materials.

Learn more about digital reference programs