By Tracy L. Thompson, Executive Director


In the last edition of the LLNE News, I provided some background information about a virtual reference pilot program that NELLCO has been developing.This month, the pilot has a name!The NELLCO collaborative reference service will be known as Library LAWLINELive Assistance With Legal Information in the NorthEast.

Following a NELLCO Directors’ Meeting in April during which the plan was presented and discussed in detail, the pilot has gained a great deal of support from individual NELLCO member institutions and we are moving forward.As of today, 20 out of our 25 members have agreed to participate.Participation requires a commitment of money and staff resources.Each participating library will agree to staff the desk for 4 hours each week.In exchange, their patrons will have access to the virtual service during all of the service hours.We hope to provide virtual service 7 days a week, for a total of 54 hours weekly.We are in the process of developing a schedule that will meet everyone’s needs.

I am now able to report that our software solution of choice for this pilot is 24/7.As you may know, 24/7 is a software product that was specifically developed for use by a large multi-type library consortium (MCLS) for the provision of virtual reference service.Because 24/7 was intended for reference use, as opposed to many options that were originally designed for commercial customer service, it focuses on the needs of librarians and library patrons.The NELLCO Virtual Reference Task Force felt that 24/7 offered the greatest functionality, a well-designed librarian interface and flexible customization at the most reasonable cost.

In early June, 24/7 will provide training to participating NELLCO librarians.One session will be held at BC Law and one at Quinnipiac University School of Law.After the training sessions, participating libraries will have the summer months to practice and become comfortable with this new tool.Then in September, we will roll out our virtual reference service for our patrons.We will evaluate the service as we go along and we expect that we will need to make changes as we discover how patrons use the service and how well we meet their needs.In May of 2003, we will evaluate the success of the pilot and decide whether to continue to offer this service to our patrons.We will keep you informed.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the NELLCO pilot feel free to contact me at, or any of these task force members.Kelly Browne (University of Connecticut), Jean Callihan (Cornell), Jeff Dowd (Connecticut Judicial Branch), Rebecca Engsberg (Quinnipiac), Diane Frake (Vermont Law), Meg Hayden (Massachusetts Trial Courts), Scott Matheson (Yale) and Joan Shear (Boston College).


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