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Graduate Reference Assistant Program: Reference Assistance

Reference Help

The Graduate Reference Assistant will provide assistance with basic questions asked by patrons that can be answered quickly. Difficult or more complex questions that will take more than a few minutes should be referred to a reference librarian or have the patron make an appointment to meet with a reference librarian.

Conversation, Dialogue, Interview, Icon

Basic Questions to be Handled by Graduate Assistant

  • Directional - location of:
    • restrooms
    • study rooms
    • service points (circulation, lab assistant, cafe)
    • campus buildings
  • General library policies (circulation, hours, study room reservations)
  • Rudimentary machine assistance
    • locating/using copiers
    • printers
    • scanners
    • microfilm
  • Searches for books in Library catalog
  • Call number inquiries (where is a book located)
  • Searching for a journal in Journal Locator
  • Searching Summon

Refer to Reference Librarian/Department Liaison

  • Research Methodology
    • Topic selection
    • Development of search strategies for databases
  • Disciplinary consultation (department liaisons)
  • Graduate and faculty research
  • Company research
  • Primary source materials
  • Citation formatting/attribution
  • Government information

Examples of questions you should refer to a Reference Librarian:

  •  If a patron says “I have an assignment”
  •  If a patron asks “what journals do we have on x subject?"
  •  If a patron says “I am doing research on..."
  •  If a patron says “How do you find” and it is not easy to find through the home page
  • If a patron says "I need help searching the x database"


If the reference desk is not busy and you have some free time, you can practice doing some basic searches. Use topics related to your courses to search in various tools:

1) book catalog for books

2) HawkFind or discipline-specific databases for articles

3) internet (Google, Google Scholar) for credible/authoritative websites

You can go over some of your search results with a reference librarian. The librarian may suggest modifications to your search strategy or additional sources that can be reviewed.