12:31PM 3/28/97

The University Record, April 2, 1996

Students can consult librarians from 'home'

By Matthew Thorburn
News and Information Services 

For U-M students, librarians are now as close as their desktop. Interactive Reference Assistance (IRA) is the first stage of a project to use interactive technology for reference consultation via the campus computing network. Links between the Shapiro Undergraduate Library and selected residence hall libraries allow students to confer with librarians "long distance."

IRA uses CUSeeMe communications software, Connectix digital cameras and desktop computers to provide live video images and sound across the campus ethernet. Now U-M students can consult librarians face to face without leaving their residence halls.

Linda TerHarr, head of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library, says IRA makes researching a topic less overwhelming because students can collaborate with a reference librarian before even entering the library. IRA "puts a human face on the technology," TerHaar adds. "We're using digital technology to provide assistance to students when and where they need it."

For more information, call TerHaar, 763-5084, or e-mail terhaar@umich.edu.