October 20, 2009 13:51 ET

Beyond Library Walls and Open Hours...

In time for Ontario's Public Library Week, askON extends service hours

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 20, 2009) - askON, Ontario's real-time library research service, extends its hours from 40 to 45 hours per week to help serve the increasing demand for its free, chat-based reference and information services. askON will now be open on Sundays between 1:30pm and 4:30pm, and stay open to 9:30pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Since it launched in January 2008, traffic to the askON service, available from the websites of over 35 Ontario public libraries, has increased exponentially. The number of questions and requests for research assistance handled by askON's public library staff in September 2009 more than doubled from September 2008, and demand for the service in October has already outstripped September by more than 10%.

Participating public libraries contribute anywhere from 3 to 10 staff hours per week to the shared askON schedule. askON staff, who are located around the province, use instant messaging services to chat one-on-one with a wide range of visitors including students needing help with school research assignments, job seekers looking for career guidance and businesspeople looking for industry trends. There are now enough askON partner libraries to realize the goal of extending service later in the evening and on Sundays when many people, particularly students, need research help.

"What better way to celebrate Ontario's Public Library Week than to celebrate the success of a service that would not exist without the collaboration of the province's public libraries", said Virginia Roy, Project Manager for askON. "Smaller libraries and even branch libraries in larger systems find it challenging to be open evenings and weekends. With the increased access and popularity of virtual library services such as askON, libraries are able to extend their services beyond library walls and open hours."

Freely available to all Ontarians, whether they have a library card or not, askON is supported by an ever growing list of communities: Asphodel-Norwood, Barrie, Belleville, Brampton, Cambridge, Cornwell, Dryden, Fort Erie, Georgina Township, Greater Sudbury, Hamilton, Hearst, Innisfil, Kenora, Kingston Frontenac, Kitchener, Lambton County, London, Middlesex County, Moonbeam, North Bay, Oakville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Pickering, Powassan & District, Prince Edward County, St. Catharines, Stormont Dundas & Glengarry, Temiskaming Shores, Terrace Bay, Thunder Bay, Val Rita-Harty, Vaughan, Waterloo, Welland and Windsor.

About askON

askON is a real-time information service, developed by Ask Ontario and the province's libraries with support from Knowledge Ontario and the Province of Ontario. askON helps Ontarians connect, using chat over the Internet, with library staff who can help them find authoritative digital information and improve their online search skills. Launched on January 7, 2008, askON has grown to include 37 public, 14 college and 7 university libraries located around the province. For more information visit: or ONdemande, askON's French language service is available 33 hours per week from the websites of several partner libraries.

A list of participating libraries and current hours can be found at or

Ontario Public Library Week ( runs from October 18-24, 2009 and celebrates the important contribution that public libraries make to education, literacy and life-long learning in Ontario communities.

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