May 16, 2022 University of Michigan Librarians on Call 77 Hours a Week to Answer Questions via Instant Message

From an Article by Kellie Woodhouse:

U-M has operated an Ask a Librarian instant message service since 2007 and the service continues to significantly grow in popularity, says program director and U-M librarian Karen Reiman-Sendi. 

“(Users appreciate) experts who are providing the instruction and the help. It’s convenient in that I can stay wherever I am in my location and get that help and it’s efficient,” she said, adding that one recent Ask a Librarian user was so pleased with the service the user called librarians “magical people.”


n 2010-11 librarians answered an average of 836 questions over instant messaging per month, for a total of 10,031 questions that academic year. The number of inquires has increased to an average of 931 per month during the 2011-12 academic year.

Additionally, it turns out more people are chatting with librarians than emailing them. Ask a Librarian receives an average of 349 email inquiries a month.

Users like the instant messaging service because they can speak “live” with the librarian, Reiman-Sendi said. The service is also staffed by librarians with varying expertise, which students and staff find helpful.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.