Membership Details and Benefits

Operating continuously since Sept. 2003, AskAcademic is proud of its service record and collaborative operating model. For more information, please contact Amigos Library Services Staff who manage the AskAcademic service:

Here’s how the AskAcademic Virtual Reference Cooperative works:

  Watch a short overview video of the service (.MP4)

Membership Details:
AskAcademic is a member-based cooperative providing 24/7reference services to students, faculty and staff at member institutions.

We are a member supported cooperative, with staffing and software costs shared by member libraries. The active participation of our member libraries is what makes us great! Member library contributions help to pay our software costs and a portion of the cost of operating an after-hours librarian service through Altarama. Amigos Library Services provides the following to AskAcademic members:

  • Program administration, scheduling assistance, and billing
  • Training and assistance for RefChatter, the virtual chat client from Altarama, for a representative from each member library
  • Administration of a listserv for the AskAcademic community’s communication needs
  • Maintenance of a website for educating prospective members and as a resource for current members
  • Liaison between the AskAcademic community and Altarama
  • Coordination of scheduling for staffing contribution hours
  • Assistance with reference statistics by providing the following RefChatter reports, in CSV format, for the group, as a whole, via the ASK website on a monthly basis:
    • Chats per library
    • Chats answered by the 24/7 staff
    • Average times that the patron had to wait before a chat was answered
    • Chat traffic over a period of time
  • Recruitment and onboarding of new members

In addition, Amigos Library Services will field questions from the designated AskAcademic representative at each participating institution and return responses within one business day.

Benefits to Your Library Users:

  • Meet your library users online when they need search help.
  • Provide library service beyond your library hours, 24/7.
  • Answers the strong need for expert (librarian) presence online.

Benefits to Your Library:

  • Enjoy a higher profile in your community and state.
  • Be part of an innovative and popular statewide collaboration.
  • Reach new library users.
  • Add another reference point for higher use statistics.

Benefits to Your Staff:

  • Offer cutting-edge reference skills for library staff members.
  • Improve staff reference skills through training, mentoring, and collaboration.
  • Connect with reference staff throughout the cooperative.
  • Get access to subject experts for those challenging questions.

Contribution Chart and Joining:
Please contact the AskAcademic coordinator for information on contribution levels. You can contact the coordinator at When you’re ready to join, let Amigos know and we’ll send who will send you a Letter of Agreement.

Membership Alternatives:
We always accept more than the minimum suggested contribution. Thank you for your generosity.

If you want to participate but feel you cannot meet the minimum suggested contribution(s), please contact the coordinator. We want to find ways to allow all libraries to participate!

We accept additional contributions in lieu of staffing, or for reduced staffing. Suggested rate: +10% of suggested contribution for every 1 hour of reduced staffing.

We accept additional staffing for reduced contributions. Suggested rate: 1 hour of staffing for every -10% of suggested contribution.

An ASKRep is an individual from one of our member libraries who represents that library and acts as the liaison between the AskAcademic and the Rep’s own library. The person disseminates communication about the service to library leaders, and when appropriate, oversees staff scheduling and training, and participates in collaboration planning and future development.