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Stumbling around the library

I remember, when attending university for my first degree, going to the library on campus to conduct research and being completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of materials they had there. Needing articles from academic journals for research papers, I would stroll the stacks of bound journals, picking them up randomly to read table of contents and eventually finding something "close enough" to useful. I spent hours of wasted time trolling for information I needed. It wasn't until my 4th year that I asked a librarian at the reference desk for help and that person led me to a key and fruitful starting point that I realized how much time I had been wasting and wished I had asked for help sooner.

You see, one of the things I hadn't realized is that it was okay for me to ask for help. I had the idea that I would be bothering those librarians or interupting their work. The other thing I hadn't realized is that there exist "tools" that index and organize publications which make it one heck of a lot faster and more efficient to find information than trolling the stacks.

So, the point of this article is to make sure that you know it's okay to ask for help. When we are at those reference desks or by the telephones and email in our Telefact information department or in front of the AskOn chat window of our virtual reference service, we are waiting for your questions. We get all kinds - from the simple "I need to find journal articles on mining in Africa" to "How many Jesuit priests were there in El Salvador in 1967?".

The other point is to make sure you know that we are pretty darn knowledgeable about those indexing and key "tools" I mentioned above. We can find correct and authoritative information for you in minutes that you've just spent 3 hours trolling for using google. We may even be able to suggest additional information to augment your research you hadn't even thought of!

So, next time you need to do some research don't hesitate to ask us for help. We're happy to help and waiting for your questions.