Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Using Libraries

Using library staff

General enquiries

Library staff are a valuable research resource. They will often have in-depth knowledge of a particular collection, the resources available and the services offered by the library. By following the tips below we hope that you will be able to use library staff effectively to help you with your research. Library staff like helping you, so don't be afraid to ask!

You can usually make general enquiries to library staff in person, by telephone and online (by email or online form). It will save your own time if you use information available in print or on the library website to try and identify the correct person to ask. For example, there may be a specific member of staff who deals with inter-library loans.

If in doubt just ask at the enquiry or information desk. Remember, not every member of staff can answer every question you might have, but they should be able to tell you who can.

Subject-specific enquiries

If you have a detailed enquiry about your specific research subject, the library's subject staff, often called subject librarians or subject specialists will be the best people to help you.

A list of subject librarians, including their contact details and information about their subject collections are often available on a library's website. For example, a list of subject specialists is available on the Senate House Library website.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your subject librarian:

  • If you have a detailed enquiry contact your subject librarian in advance as it may be neccessary to make an appointment.
  • Do you know exactly what your want your subject librarian to help you with? It will be useful for you to think this through in advance. The research subject section of this tutorial may help you.
  • What do you need the resources for, eg dissertation, background research?
  • What types of resources do you want, eg journal articles, book chapters?
  • Are you trying to locate a particular book or journal article? Can you provide your subject librarian with author, title and date of publication?
  • When do you need the information by? Remember to leave enough time for the subject librarian to find the information you need.
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