Maryland state officials have turned the traditional public library information desk into a virtual forum where students can chat with librarians about their research questions in real time via the internet—24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Librarians staffing the online research service, called AskUsNow!, guide students and other users to pre-selected web sites, databases, and other digital resources. Using any internet-connected computer, students can log onto the service for help with their research papers or homework—even in the middle of the night.

"This is more of a reference

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