Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217
Nita Dean, OCLC (614) 761-5002; nita_dean@oclc.org

June 20, 2001

Collaborative Digital Reference Service Reaches 100 Participants

One hundred libraries are now participating in a pilot project to create a collaborative authoritative reference service using the collective expertise of reference librarians worldwide to provide answers to information requested by researchers anytime, anywhere.

The Library of Congress and OCLC Online Computer Library Center are partners in the Collaborative Digital Reference Service pilot project that has so far attracted participation from libraries in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom.

In May, the Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Digital Reference Team, Hillsboro, Oregon, became the 100th library to participate in the Collaborative Digital Reference Service project.

More libraries are encouraged to participate in the pilot project that will continue through 2001. Academic, national, public and special libraries as well as consortia have so far enrolled in the project. Any library can participate in the project after its profile has been approved by the Collaborative Digital Reference Service. There is no charge for participation during the pilot project.

OCLC is developing a knowledge base and profiling service, as well as providing operations and marketing support to the project. Together, the Library of Congress and OCLC expect to develop a viable model for a self-sustaining digital reference service and promote the Collaborative Digital Reference Service in the library community.

"It is a great opportunity in Boise, Idaho, for us to be part of an exciting project," said Rosemary Cooper, librarian at Boise Public Library. "The bulk of our experience to date has been in working with the Collaborative Digital Reference Service and our reference staff in -over- developing enthusiasm and commitment to participate in the project. The Collaborative Digital Reference Service is about more than providing answers. It is about sharing expertise. It adds the important element of interpretation and analysis to data." Boise Public Library is one of four Collaborative Digital Reference Service participating libraries that will share their experiences in the project during a session at the upcoming American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco, California, on "Virtual Reference: Opportunities for Collaboration," from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Monday, June 18, in the Marriott Hotel, Golden Gate B2. Also, the Library of Congress will hold two Collaborative Digital Reference Service Interactive Sessions on "Collaborative Digital Reference Service: What's It Worth to You?" at 1 to 3 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, June 16, at the Holiday Inn Financial District, 750 Kearny St., third floor, Chinese Culture Center.

Demonstrations of the Collaborative Digital Reference Service will be given at the Library of Congress booth, and information about the service will be distributed at the OCLC booth at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in San Francisco, California, June 16?19, 2001.

Information on how to become a participant in the project is at www.loc.gov/cdrs.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with nearly 121 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include some 18 million books, 2.5 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.5 million maps and 54 million manuscripts. In addition to its primary mission of serving the U.S. Congress, the Library serves all Americans in its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill, as well as through its popular Web site, at www.loc.gov.

Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit organization that provides computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing and preservation services to 39,000 libraries in 76 countries and territories. OCLC was founded in 1967 to improve access to the world's information and reduce information costs, and conducts ongoing research to develop technologies to support that mission. Forest Press, a division of OCLC since 1988, publishes the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

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PR 01-089
6-20-01
ISSN 0731-3527

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