Ask a Librarian Guidelines and Procedures
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This service is intended primarily for the students, faculty, staff, and other affiliated users of Rutgers University. Inquiries from non-affiliated users concerning the University, the collections, resources, and services of the University Libraries, or relating in some way to New Jersey should also receive priority. Within the realms of reason, all questions from all users should receive a reply.
The AAL Coordinator will post a schedule monthly for the members of the Reference group, and the members of the Access group.
Each member of the Reference Team will typically be assigned two days during that month on which they will be responsible for answering the queries received on that date. That is to say, those assigned to September 12th for example, would be responsible for any Reference question dated September 12th, whether it was sent at 12:01 am or 11:59 pm on that day. The rotation will include the weekends, however, there is no obligation to actually respond during the weekend unless that is your preference.
Each member of the Access Team will typically be assigned two days during that month on which they will be responsible for answering the queries received on all, or part, of that date. During the academic year, typically two Access Team members will be assigned to each day Sundays thru Thursdays:
Access I: Midnight to 6:59 pm (18:59)
Access II: 7 pm (19:00) to midnight.
Access I: Midnight to 2:59 pm (14:59)
Access II: 3 pm (15:00) to midnight.
Friday: One person responsible for entire day.
Saturday: One person responsible for entire day.
The rotation will include the weekends, however, there is no obligation to actually respond during the weekend unless that is your preference.
A response should normally be sent to the patron within 24-48 hours, except on weekends and holidays.
ILS: Glenn Sandberg will normally respond to questions dealing with requests that have been placed through Interlibrary Loan; he may forward questions regarding Newark and Camden requests to those libraries for response. Glenn will also normally answer questions about PALCI requests and web document delivery (ILL and RDS), referring questions to staff at libraries as appropriate.
Media: Jan Reinhart will normally respond to questions dealing with media collections and bookings.
The Reference Group will normally respond to the routine remote access and systems questions, i.e., those covered in the Frequently Asked Questions pages.
In the case of those technical queries which the assigned Reference person cannot answer (doesn't know; can't identify as covered in a FAQ; has run out of suggestions), respond to the user with AskAL Standard Reply "SystemsForward:"
I am forwarding your query to Sam McDonald (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Libraries' Systems Office. You should be hearing from him shortly.
Then from within your email, forward a copy of this response to Sam McDonald (email@example.com).
Sam will response to the user and copy "firstname.lastname@example.org".
- See above for referrals to Systems.
- For non-routine questions concerning Special Collections, respond to the user with AskAL Standard Reply "SpecialCollectionsForward":
I am forwarding your query to David Kuzma (email@example.com) in the Libraries' division of Special Collections and University Archives. You should be hearing from him shortly.
Then from within your email, forward a copy of this response to Dave Kuzma (kuzmadav@rci).
- For questions regarding University Archive collections, respond to the user with AskAL Standard Reply "ForwardArchives":
I am forwarding your query to Associate University Archivist Erika Gorder (firstname.lastname@example.org). You should be hearing from her shortly.
Then from within your email, forward a copy of this response to Erika Gorder (email@example.com.
- Questions regarding the status of, or problems pertaining to, electronic subscriptions should be referred to Cahty Pecoraro: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Other referrals should be made as appropriate. Please ask whoever you are making the referral to to cc: "email@example.com" when replying to the patron.
There is no obligation to answer every question immediately. However, every effort should be made to answer the basic questions on the same day (no, you don't have to stay up all night), and I think within 48 hours is a reasonable expectation for most of the "real" reference questions. And of course, the faster you answer, the fewer are hanging over your head!
How far you are willing to go in replying to a particular query or request is a function of the same professional judgement that you exercise daily at the Reference or Circulation Desks. If someone writes "I need everything written on....," you will probably respond by "The best sources with which to begin your research are...;" and not with a long list of references. "Here are my barcode and PIN, please renew all my books for me," should in most cases elicit either "Renewal can be done from within IRIS. Just go into SELF SERVICES and....," or, if you wish, "I have renewed your books as per your request. However, for the future please be advised that renewal can be done by...."
SENDING A REPLY
In order to send a response to the user you must have a signature file set up in AskAL. AskAL replies will be sent to the user as coming from the email that you supply in your AskAL signature file. A copy of your response will also be sent to the email address in your AskAl signature file.