Baffled by a government-related question? Government Information Online (GIO) is a web-based service that allows you to chat or exchange email messages with a government librarian – who just might have the answer to your question!

GIO is a national program, so a user who logs on in Indiana may well be connected to a librarian in Colorado. Most people appear to ask questions about government matters at the federal level, but the service is able to address state or local issues if information is available online.

But users can also specify a particular library in their area (through a drop-down menu of participants) if they want to ask a question that is more local in nature and requires information that may not be accessible online.

The GIO service has been around as a pilot program since autumn of 2004. The project is coordinated by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Illinois State Library, with resources provided by the Online Computer Library Center.