Scottish historian, author and broadcaster Neil Oliver invites the public to Ask Scotland

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Neil Oliver using Ask Scotland while on location at Stirling Castle

Scottish historian, author and broadcaster Neil Oliver took time out from filming today to launch Ask Scotland, a brand new online reference service which allows users to pose any question to a Scottish librarian and receive a fully researched answer within 48 hours.

Ask Scotland invites users to ask a question via an online enquiry form at Questions are then sent on to qualified librarians who research the answer using the wide range of information and resources held within Scotland’s libraries. Within 48 hours an accurate, thoroughly researched response is supplied.

With over 100 million websites on the internet, search engines can present a challenge for researchers as they return millions of results, many of which are not on target and can be inaccurate. Ask Scotland draws on the experience of librarians who are experts at sorting through information and finding, organising and evaluating what people need from a mass of credible sources.

The new system provides a comprehensive resource for students, academics and anyone with a research need as it opens up access to the rich collections held within Scotland’s libraries, allowing users to access resources hidden from search engines, including journals and books.

Ask Scotland also has a live chat function which allows people to connect directly to a librarian and ask a question in real time.

The new service has been developed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC), in collaboration with Scotland's public library services and has been funded by the Scottish Government through the Public Library Quality Improvement Fund (PLQIF).

Commenting on the new Ask Scotland service Neil Oliver said: “Ask Scotland is a fantastic new resource which allows people to access a wide range of information that may not be accessible by simply searching the web.

“In my line of work accurate research is extremely important, but it can take time to find the information you are looking for. The main benefit of Ask Scotland is that it links you to an expert who has access to a wealth of information and resources held in Scotland’s libraries, ensuring that you receive a fast, fully researched and accurate response to any question. I will certainly be taking advantage of the service!”

Elaine Fulton, Director of the Scottish Library and Information Council said: “Ask Scotland is unique in that it allows users to access Scotland’s library collections without leaving their computer.

“So whether you need information for a school project, research paper or you are looking at investigating your family tree, Ask Scotland can help. Try it today at”

Notes to Editors

  1. Ask Scotland is powered by QuestionPoint. To ask a question visit:
  2. The service answers questions on any topic but specialises in Scottish information.
  3. Ask Scotland is coordinated by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC), the advisory body to the Scottish Government on libraries. The service is staffed by librarians and library assistants in Scotland’s libraries.
  4. Ask Scotland is a non-profit service funded by the Scottish Government through SLIC and participating local authorities.
  5. For more information on SLIC visit: