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Who is that Person Sitting Behind the Reference Desk?

Why, it’s the Reference Librarian! Perhaps you might be a little timid about approaching a librarian with help. But never fear – we are here to help you with anything you could possibly need for your next big assignment. Whether you’re trying to locate a book on the library shelves or need some great resources for that looming term paper, the reference librarians are here for you every step of the way.
Some things a reference librarian can help you with:

1. Locating resources: Where can I find this book at this call number? How can I access the UAlbany databases? How to I use Inter-Library Loan? Where’s the copier? If ever you get lost finding what you need, just ask a librarian. They can guide you and provide assistance as necessary.

2. Evaluating online resources: Ok, so you’ve located this great website for your research paper. But is it really what you are looking for? Not all web pages are created equal. Is the source of the information authoritative and reliable? Some free web sites provide scholarly information but others may have a bias that is not easily detected. If you’re unsure whether a website is reliable enough to include in a scholarly assignment, a reference librarian will work with you to help you select high-quality websites or materials in the library for your project.

3. Where else to look: Even if you know your databases inside and out, there’s still a possibility that there are even more sources out there to give you more information on your topic. A reference librarian can lead you to anything from print resources, to online databases, to free online sources you might not know about. We can help you discover which ones are right for you.

4. How to use tricky print resources: Just as databases differ from each other, so do print resources. Thesauri and law reporters are just a couple examples of some books that might leave a user thinking “huh?��? But, don’t just put those items back on the shelf because you’re unsure how to use them. Bring them to the reference librarian and we’ll walk you through not only how to use these resources, but how they can help you in your studies.

5. Provide more in-depth research help: Reference librarians can get you started when you have no idea where to start when faced with a daunting assignment or paper. A librarian can help you with those tricky parts in your research when you find yourself stuck. No matter how simple or difficult your questions may be, the reference librarians are up for the challenge of helping you. If you would like more time with a librarian than a quick session at the reference desk, feel free to make an appointment with any of our bibliographers at the Dewey Library.

So, how do you let a reference librarian know you need assistance? You may think you will need to make a special trip to the library to ask a question, but this is not always the case. The University Libraries offer off-campus reference services through email, IM and phone. To use these services, visit the Dewey Library Contact Us page. Of course if it is convenient, feel free to pay us a visit at the desk.