Save Time, Ask Us

October 1, 2008

Questions posed at the Perkins Library reference desk generally fall into one of four categories:

Question Type: Directional

What they are: Just what they sound like

Examples: Where is the bathroom? Where are the books with call numbers starting with D? Where is the chapel?

Required: Knowledge of library and campus layout


Question Type: Ready-reference

What they are: Basic statistical or factual questions usually answered quickly by consulting a single source like an almanac, encyclopedia, or reputable website.

Examples: What is the population of Chile? Where was Hillary Clinton born? How do I cite a journal article correctly using Chicago style?

Required: Quick on the draw with print and online reference works


Question Type: In-depth research

What they are: Broad questions about potential research topics. Librarians work with students to focus topic, brainstorm print and online resources or databases, and provide backup as the students follow these leads. For many reference librarians, these are the most fun.

Examples: Where can I find information about immigration laws in Germany and the Netherlands? I'm writing a paper on Christian Zionism. Where do I begin?

Required: Master's degree in library science


Question Type: Equipment/Technology

What they are: Requests for assistance with library computers, scanners, etc.

Examples: How do you use the scanner? Can you un-jam the printer? Do you have a stapler?

Required: Patience


— Jacob Dagger