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Just Inside the Door

Circulation / Reserves and the Reference Room

TIM'S TOUR: Tim walks down the hallway and sees a desk marked "Circulation/Reserves." Right! He remembers that his sociology professor told the class to go to the reserves desk and read an article she had put there for them.


Faculty members put materials they want the whole class to read at the reserve desk. Materials on reserve have shorter check-out periods than regular books so that everyone gets a chance to read them.

TIM'S TOUR: The reserves staff member seems friendly, so Tim asks if they have any books on the Vietnam War that he can check out. The reserves person tells him he can get help with that at the reference desk and shows him where it is.

WANT MORE on course reserves?
> Unit 6 > GIL

Reference Desk

The reference desk is where you go for help with all stages of your research, especially when you are just starting out. Reference librarians can help you focus your topic and find information using library databases, the Internet, and reference sources.

Besides going to the reference desk in a library, you can get reference help by phone, e-mail, or sometimes even online chat.

"Ask a Librarian"

Look for the "Ask A Librarian" link on GALILEO, which will take you to an online request form. When you send your question, the GALILEO people will automatically forward it to the reference department at your home library. If that library can't answer your question, they'll forward it to a library that can. You should get an answer within three days; if you need a quicker response then call the reference desk. "Ask a Librarian" services won't do your research for you, but they will answer brief factual questions and point you to resources to help you get started.

Your library may also have a Distance Learning Librarian who specializes in helping distance education students with library research.

TIM'S TOUR: When Tim asks the reference librarian his question, the librarian encourages him to focus his topic on a particular aspect of the Vietnam War. Tim doesn't know enough about it to decide, so the librarian gives him a reference book called The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. The book gives him some background on the war and has essays on some great topics. Tim decides to do his paper on news coverage of the war.

Reference Room

The reference room is where libraries have their computers with access to the online catalog, periodical databases, and the Internet.

The reference book collection usually includes:

photo of an open book

Items from the Reference collections cannot be checked out. That way they're always available for everyone to use.

TIM'S TOUR: The encyclopedia has a bibliography that lists books on Tim's topic. The reference librarian helps him locate the books in the library catalog and he heads upstairs to the stacks to find them.

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