AskAway – BC’s Real Time Library Service

Anyone who has written a research essay or thesis knows how hard it can be to track down the academic resources needed to complete a project. That’s why BCcampus, along with BC post-secondary libraries, provides funding for AskAway, BC/Yukon’s post-secondary virtual reference service.

AskAway is a free online information service and allows BC and Yukon learners, educators and researchers to chat live with library staff at colleges and universities. Sunni Nishimura, AskAway Coordinator says, “Students are able to type in their question and have it answered by a librarian in real time. The service is available seven-days-a-week 10 am to 9 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 11 am to 5 pm Friday and Saturday, and learners can ask questions from anywhere they can access the Internet: at home, in a café, or using a mobile device.”

AskAway was launched in 2006 and now gives learners across the province and the Yukon 67 hours of remote library assistance per week. Library staff from 27 post-secondary libraries contribute to providing this service.

To use AskAway learners log in to their post-secondary library’s website. From there, learners can simply type their questions into a chat box. An AskAway staff person then sees the question and can start chatting with the learner in real time about their information need. Responses could include links to websites, subject guides or online full-text articles that may be helpful to the learner.

“The entire conversation”, says Sunni, “including the links to the suggested resources can be emailed to the student, saving them the time and energy of searching for the proverbial needle -in-the-haystack.” If you have questions, contact Sunni at for more details.