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| by Carrie Macfarlane

What happens when you schedule a research consultation at the library?

Your professor has told you to talk with a librarian. You’ve noticed the “Meet with a Librarian” heading on the homepage of the library website. You think it would be a good idea to contact a librarian. But you haven’t done it yet.

We get it! Until you’ve met with us at least once, it’s hard to know what to expect. It can feel like trick-or-treating in a new neighborhood:  Do they hand out big chocolate bars, or mini boxes of raisins? Will it be worth the trip? (Side note… Librarians like Halloween, and we’ve been known to keep candy at the Research Desk!)

We’ve talked with lots of students about the library. We understand that not knowing what to expect can make it easy to procrastinate. So, here’s a little Q&A to demystify a research consultation. TL;DR:  You won’t always get a chocolate bar, but it’ll definitely be worth the trip.

How do I know it’s time to talk with a librarian?

Here are a few situations that have prompted other students to schedule an appointment with us: Starting a research paper; refining a research topic; looking for data; interested in using Zotero citation management tool; feeling stuck; thinking they’re probably done with their search, but wanting to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

What do we do in a research consultation?

A consultation is an opportunity to talk through an assignment or a question with a research expert. Usually, we begin with a few brief questions that help us understand what you’re interested in. Then, we work with you to meet your goals. There’s a lot of conversation (“Have you tried this yet?” and “Is this what you were looking for?”). By the end of the meeting, you might have gathered any or all of the following:  Suggestions for where to search; keywords to search for; citations to relevant sources; advice regarding next steps. 

Where do we meet?

Most research consultations are on Zoom because meeting online is popular among students as well as convenient for us. If you’d prefer an in-person consultation, we can try to arrange it.

Who do I meet with?

You might schedule with the librarian who specializes in your subject area, or with the next librarian who happens to be available, or with a librarian you met in class a few semesters ago. You choose! Any of us will be happy to hear from you.

How do I request a consultation?

Remember that “Meet with a Librarian” heading on the homepage of the library website? Click on the the “Schedule Appointment” button underneath it. 

Now that you know what to expect, why not go ahead and schedule a research consultation today? It’s a great way to build strong research skills! And it’ll save you a lot of time.

Schedule a research consultation:


Media Contact

Carrie Macfarlane is the Director of Research & Instruction at the Davis Family Library