Research Help for Circulation Students

Learning Outcomes

By the time you are done reading through this guide, we hope you will...

Understand what a reference referral is
Know when to refer a question to the Research Help desk
Assist patrons with some research help when the Research Help desk is closed 

Questions to direct to the Research Help desk

Please refer any questions that have to do with database/catalog searching, citation help, finding primary or secondary resources, looking for a general collection, or anything involving more in-depth searching to the Research Help desk, across from the Circulation desk.

If a user starts talking to you about getting help with a specific assignment or database, please refer them to the Research Help desk.

If there appears to be a scavenger hunt going on, direct all of these questions to the Research Help desk.

If there is a question about finding something on campus, or locating the contact information of someone working at Ithaca College, direct them to the Research Help desk. 

Below are some examples of what whould be referred to the Research Help desk:

"I have a research project, and I need five scholarly articles."

"What would be a good database to help me find information for my paper?"

"Can you help me with citing this book in MLA?"

"I need primary resources for my assignment, where should I start?"

"Where is the fiction section?"

"I need to complete a SWOT analysis for my business class."

"The book I want is checked out, can you help me find something else?"

"I have the title of an article, can you tell me if you have it?"

"Can you help me find an old copy of the Ithacan?"


Questions that Student Employees would answer

Circulation Student employees would be expected to answer the following questions:
  • Look up the location of a specific book title, NOT article title
  • Help students find things on Reserve 
  • Help someone create an Interlibrary Loan account 
  • Direct a patron to forms and policies on the library website 
  • Answer directional questions like where the bathroom is, where the CFE (Center for Faculty Excellence) is located, or where classrooms are 

How to Phrase a Referral

Do not respond to questions at the circulation desk with "No" or "I don't know"

Please consider these responses instead:
"That's a great question, let me see if I can find someone who can help"
"The librarian at the Research Help desk across the way will be able to sit down with you and show you the answer to your question"

What if the Research Help desk is closed?

If the research help desk is not staffed, before giving suggestions to the user, ask them questions to indicate where you should direct them on the Library website. If their question is complicated and in-depth, give them the email for the reference account:, and let them know their question will be answered in 24 hours.

You can recommend that they:

Click on Databases on the top of the page:

Use the drop down menu that says "Choose a subject":

Scroll to the bottom of the library website, and under Services, click on "Ask a Librarian"
They can email the reference account and a librarian will be in contact with them the following day:

You can also recommend they browse the library FAQ page, by scrolling down to the About section on the lower left side of the website:

What is a referral?

In dictionary terms, a referral is an act of referring someone for consultation, review, or further action  

That is exactly what you are doing when you refer a library user to one of the subject librarians working at the Research Help desk

Help with Citations

If the Research Help desk is not staffed, and a user needs help with citations, please direct them to the Library Citation Guides.

They can find examples of citations, and links to other useful citation cites like Purdue Owl.

Directing Patrons in the Library

Room 319 is on the third floor of the library, to the left of the multimedia desk

Gannett Classrooms starting with a 1 are downstairs

Library Restrooms 
2nd floor - Women's restroom
3rd floor - Men's restroom
4th floor - Men's and Women's restrooms 
5th floor - Gender neutral restrooms 

Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) is on the second floor of the library passed the 

The library entrance to Whalen, Center of Music, is on the third floor of the library, passed the CFE

Archives are on the 5th floor of the library

Group Study Rooms are on the 3rd floor of the library, to the left of the multimedia desk, in the Digital Media Center

Take this Quiz!

Click here to access the Google form quiz and test your knowledge about reference referrals!