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A Wise Old Owl Becomes NLM's Latest Customer Service Feature

Just Ask Cosmo

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) receives hundreds of e-mailed questions each day on its customer service line (custserv@nlm.nih.gov). Because many of them are simple and asked numerous times each day, NLM decided to develop software that would answer these queries and thus free up customer service representatives and reference librarians to answer more complex questions.

Based on software from a company called NativeMinds, Cosmo (Customerservice M. Owl) the wise old owl was the result. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Cosmo nests at http://wwwns.nlm.nih.gov/. Cosmo is familiar with hundreds of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Type your question in the box and up pops an answer.

Want to get directions to the Library? Find out about parking? Just ask Cosmo. Want to know how to find older medical journal articles? Ask Cosmo. Cosmo can also tell you how to participate in a clinical trial, answer a brief question about the Library's history, and give you a list of all of NLM's databases. He can also refer users to the basic health information found in MedlinePlus and respond to drug-related questions with MedlinePlus drug information.

NLM staff will constantly review the conversation logs and Cosmo will get smarter over time as his base of knowledge grows and becomes adaptable to new questions. This is one smart owl!