Do You Feel Ignored by Your Librarian?

Last week, we had three ask-the-librarian questions, and two students never received an answer. The third never got a complete answer. What happened? Were we too busy doing other things? Did we decide the questions were not answerable? Are we just mean people who enjoy not answering questions?

The answer is a simple no. Two of the questioners typed in their email address wrong, and our replies came back to us unsent. Now in some cases, we can look up a student and find the correct address. But with a common name like “Mary Jones,” we have no chance. Then, for the third person, the question was vague and we asked for some more information. We never received a reply.

We always like to help people, and we hate when students feel we have either ignored them or not answered them to their satisfaction. So here are a few suggestions to ensure you get the most out of your online encounters with a librarian:

  • Make sure your email address is typed correctly. There is no substitute for this. We can’t help if we can’t get to you.
  • Be as specific as you can with your question. And remember, if we ask for clarification, we’re not being mean. There are literally millions of books and articles that we can search. You want the few that actually will help.
  • On Live Chat, we are sitting at our computer waiting for your question. But even the best librarian may have to answer the phone, talk to a colleague, or run out for a second. She (especially if it’s me) may forget to turn off chat when called to  help at the desk. So be patient. We’ll be right back. And if not, leave an email address. And we’ll send you a message as soon as possible.

But the bottom line is this: If you don’t hear from us, we’re not ignoring you. Either we didn’t get the message or we couldn’t answer back. So ask again. Please.


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