10th January 2011

Ontario Libraries Connect Users To Knowledge

Reminder: Today is the final day to get in on the free upgrade to Bioware’s Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition when you pre-order Dragon Age 2.
Reminder: The deadline for the Canada Film Centre Cineplex Entertainment Film Program is January 21st.
Reminder: The application period for Canada Summer Jobs 2011 will be from February 1st to February 28th.

Since January 2008, many Ontario libraries have been collaborating to provide an online inquiry service askONcalled askON, along with a similar French-language service called ONdemande. askON and ONdemande are among the five digital services of Knowledge Ontario, a not-for-profit collaborative. Seven more public libraries joined the service on January 3, so a total of 63 libraries across the province are now participating.

Here’s how it works. You go to your local library’s website or to the askON home page and open a live chat session. After you post your question, a real librarian—not an automated search engine—finds the information you need. The service is available 45 hours a week, and most inquiries take about 10 to 15 minutes to answer.

Each library provides two to eight hours of live chat help each week. As a result, Ontarians in even the smallest and most remote communities can get almost instant answers to their research questions. “It’s an excellent example of how libraries work collaboratively,” says Cathy Matyas, CEO of the Brampton Library.knowledge Ontario

askON is the sort of service very few libraries could provide on their own. However, it’s exactly the sort of service they need to offer to stay relevant to many of their users.

“Providing wider access to library services is a key priority for us,” says Matyas. She points out that technologically savvy users have flocked to askON. “The uptake has been tremendous in our community.”

askON has been particularly popular with students and businesspeople—two groups who might not naturally visit a brick-and-mortar library but who spend a great deal of time online. “We’re actually going where they are,” says Laura Master, co-ordinator of information services at the Kitchener Public Library. “It’s one more avenue for people to explore and discover our libraries.”

Once users have made that initial contact, librarians can use the opportunity to help them increase their digital literacy. Many Ontarians, for instance, don’t realize that their library cards give them access to a wealth of authoritative databases that can take them far beyond what a simple Google search can offer. In an online chat, librarians can help clients access and navigate these databases. Librarians are unabashed fans of the service, which helps them develop their technical skills and gives them an opportunity to do what they do best: find information.

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble Inc. has turned the tides in the App Stores war for top selling app with the smash-hit, Burn the Rope, their new original game for iOS devices.

After Burn the Rope’s release last month, it has made a giant leap to the top of the charts in over 50 countries, dethroning best sellers Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope to sit in the #2 spot in the US and Canadian App Store, right behind Angry Birds.

Burn the Rope is the most original game of the year, and can be played by anyone and everyone! Each level gives you a more challenging rope design. Touching the rope will set it alight, so you must be pretty strategic where you choose to start. burn the rope

To play Burn the Rope you have to tilt and turn your phone to keep your flame alive, but there’s a catch… the fire only burns upwards! It’s your job to try to burn as much rope as you can in each level so you can collect Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals!

As you progress through the levels, you’ll encounter bugs crawling along the rope. Different bugs have different reactions to the flame. For example, the ant changes the color of the flame so you can access and burn different colored ropes, and the spider shoots out a web bridge so you can access parts of the level that you could not before. You will actually feel like you’re burning a rope, yet there’s no need for a fire extinguisher!

Based on its huge popularity with reviewers and fans alike, it’s easy to see that Burn the Rope is going to be sitting at the top of charts for quite a while. Big Blue Bubble Inc. is pleased to see that an Ontario company can make such a huge impact in the US App market, as well as those from around the world.

One Canadian title has been named to the IGF Student Game Showcase, and one received an Honourable Mention. First-person puzzler FRACT, developed by University of Montreal student Richard Flanagan, puts the player into an abstract world built on sound and structures inspired by electronic music. The player must then resurrect and revive the long forgotten machinery of this musical world, thereby unlocking the mysteries contained within.

Honourable Mention was given to Star-Twine, a title developed at Carleton University. According to the game’s description, “Star-Twine is a strategy game with ambient sounds, unique visuals and a virtually infinite number of levels to play on. Battles take place on three dimensional maps where you, a small point of light, must build structures to extract energy from the threads that make up the world. Energy can be spent on new structures, each with their own unique abilities. The enemy AI builds while you build and reacts to your play-style. This results in challenging battles that require strategic insight and quick thinking.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 11:46 am and is filed under Awards, Business News, Careers, Casual, Digital Products, Education, Events, Everyone, Everyone 10+, Government, Mobile, National News, Puzzle, RTS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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