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Southern California’s library system chooses eGain for online reference desks

Innovative 24/7 Project Provides Round-the-Clock Access to Reference Librarians

SUNNYVALE, Calif, March 26, 2002 – eGain Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: EGAN), a global provider of eService software, today announced that Southern California’s Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (MCLS) has chosen eGain Live and eGain Interact software as the basis of its “24/7 Reference” project.

According to the Project Director of 24/7 Reference, Susan McGlamery, MCLS was particularly impressed by eGain’s user interface. “It was the best collaborative browsing product,” she said, “and eGain was more responsive to our needs.”

Initially developed to support 32 public and special district libraries in Los Angles and Orange Counties, the 24/7 Reference program provides library patrons with 24-hour access to a live reference librarian via the Internet, using a combination of text chat and co-browsing. Many librarians view online reference librarians – dubbed “cybrarians” by one syndicated columnist – as the next logical step in a progression that began with telephone access and was then extended via email.

Libraries offering the 24/7 Reference services include the County of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Orange County, Pasadena, and Redondo Beach. In addition to the original Southern California libraries, the 24/7 Reference services have also been established at the public libraries for Boston, Charlotte & Mecklenburg NC, and St Charles, IL. University libraries using the services include Boston College, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Irvine, University of Utah, University of Alberta, Cornell University, Cal State Northridge, University of Washington, Cal Poly Pomona, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Claremont Colleges and Syracuse University.

The marriage of the Internet with the library, and specifically virtual reference desks are hot topics within the quiet world of library science these days. Library conferences and publications are abuzz with papers such as, “From Shh to Search Engine,” “Going Where the Users Are: Live Digital Reference,” and “Be it Resolved that Reference Librarians Are Not Toast.” Meanwhile, nationwide, many more community and university libraries are currently evaluating and testing virtual reference services. Joining the 24/7 Reference’s current clients, the libraries for Washington State University, UC Berkeley, and Reading, MA will soon offer the virtual reference services.

How Virtual Reference Works

When patrons visit the web site of an MCLS member library, reference librarians in MCLS’s 24/7 Project determine their needs via text chat. Then they either deliver the appropriate web page to the patron’s computer using eGain Interact’s push function, or co-browse using the escort function. Powered by eGain’s proxy-based co-browsing, both the librarian and the patron can see the exact same web page at the same time while continuing with text chat. The librarian also has a few controls to manage the session, but they are so simple and intuitive that using them requires no special training.

eGain Interact allows librarians to co-browse information in restricted-use databases and share it with patrons during a chat or phone session. With its true proxy-based co-browsing, eGain Interact eliminates issues such as double form submission, personalization, and authentication failure.

In addition to these features, eGain Interact includes a security layer that enables librarians to access databases that require proxy authentication, and then share that information with patrons without violating the database usage license — much as they might if the librarian and patron were face-to-face. Using Interact’s simple-to-configure business rules, the security of patron data and librarian access to secure databases can be maintained.

The MCLS libraries are concentrated in Southern California, but a patron can be transferred to another librarian at a collaborating public or academic library anywhere in the United States with no need for the patron to end the session and then begin again. Collaborating libraries include the California county law librarians, the Boston Public Library, and the Smithsonian Museum of Art, among others.

“We are very proud to have MCLS join the ranks of eGain’s Web collaboration customers,” said Suzanne Hoffman, eGain’s vice president of business development. “In addition to providing a very significant service for Southern California and other public libraries, MCLS has created an innovative customer service model that works in both the public and private sectors.”

About MCLS

The Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (MCLS) is an association of 32 independent city and special district public libraries located in the greater Los Angeles area, which have agreed to cooperate in providing library service to the residents of all participating jurisdictions. MCLS provides member libraries a resource-sharing network and a means for enhancing the level and diversity of resources available to library users, while reducing duplication of effort.

About 24/7 Reference:

24/7 Reference is a project of the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System (MCLS), supported by Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding, administered by the California State Library. To find out more about the project, please visit

About eGain Communications Corporation

eGain (Nasdaq: EGAN) is a leading provider of eService software. Selected by 24 of the 50 largest global companies to improve phone and Web-based customer service, eGain solutions increase service efficiency and customer retention – thus delivering a significant return on investment (ROI). eGain eService Enterprise – the company’s integrated software suite – includes applications for email management, Web collaboration and self-service, and enterprise-wide knowledge management. eGain has an operating presence in 18 countries and serves more than 800 enterprise customers worldwide – including Vodafone, DaimlerChrysler, and ABN AMRO Bank. To learn more about eGain, please visit or call the company’s offices – United States: (888) 603-4246; London: +44 (0) 1753 464646; or Sydney: +612 9492 5400.


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Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: All statements in this release that involve eGain’s plans, forecasts, beliefs, projections, expectations, strategies and intentions are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements, which are based on information available to eGain at the time of this release, are not guarantees of future results; rather, they are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in this release. These risks include, but are not limited to, the challenging economic environment; the uncertainty of demand for eGain products; the anticipated customer benefits from eGain products; increased competition and technological changes in the markets in which eGain competes; eGain’s ability to manage its expenditures; and other risks detailed from time to time in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company’s annual report on Form 10-K filed on September 28, 2001, and the company’s quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. eGain assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements.


Media Contacts:

eGain Communications Corp.
Anne Carr

24/7 Reference Project
Susan McGlamery or
Carol Bonnefil