Introducing “UAsk…WeAnswer!”

#1 Elbow_Bump1
The elbow bump: a social distancing-approved “howdy.” Image by J slick / CC BY-SA

Do you engage in the time-honored tradition of staying awake throughout the night to prepare for exams or produce written assignment? Perhaps you need the quiet of the small hours, or the focus that only a fast-approaching deadline can provide. Would you rather start your work when all the people around you are fluffing their pillows and ducking under their blankies? Only you (and possibly your family, friends, and significant other) know if you are a night-owl. There is no shame in your game! But what do you do when the world is on a 9-5 schedule and you are not?

Don’t worry — the Touro Libraries have got you! We offer remote reference through “U Ask…We Answer!” an instant messaging service powered by Springshare Library Software and your helpful Touro Libraries librarians. We are online 12/24 (9 to 9 EST, or thereabouts) 5 days per week, waiting to Chat with you. You can reach us from the QuickSearch results page, by clicking on the “Chat Live” tab located at the upper right corner:

#2QuickSearch Chat Live

Or by clicking the Ask-A-Librarian image in the upper right corner of the Libraries homepage:

#3AskALibrarian from homepage

When we are online, the Chat portion of the page will contain several blank text fields. We request your name, Touro email address, campus location and question. This information will be transferred to the librarian waiting online, at the ready to assist.

#4Chat online

But what happens when we are not online, and you still have a question? You have some options. You can always email us your question, and we will email you with a written response. To do this, click on the email icon:

#5 email checked

A form will magically appear where you can input your question and email address.

#6 Ask-A-Librarian Form

You will receive your answer within 24-48 hours.

Yikes! That’s a long time, especially when time is of the essence. But as I said, we’ve got you! If you didn’t reach us on Chat because you didn’t think of your question until after midnight, there is a second option.

#7The_Thinker,_Rodin
“The Thinker” by Rodin, photographed by Andrew Horne.

You can search the FAQs (frequently asked questions) contained in the UAsk… WeAnswer! knowledge base.

When we are offline, put a keyword in the blank text box and search. Questions previously asked using that keyword will be returned, and you can review any or all answers.

#8offline

#9Keyword search

You also have the option of searching the knowledge base at any time, even when we are on Chat, by clicking on the question mark icon.

#10Question markpg

This search will give you access to all the previously asked question and answer sets (asked by actual Touro students, faculty, alumni and staff), but arranged by popularity and currency.

#11 Frontpage

You can search by keyword, topic, or, if you are in the mood, browse through all question and answer sets. As more questions are asked, additional FAQs will be added to the knowledge base. Hopefully, this will increase the likelihood that your question will be included. While you might not find the answer to “How do I get the PDF of an article I need right now?” the FAQs will explain why it wasn’t in the databases and further action for you to take to obtain it. At 2 a.m., it’s sure better than nothing.

This post was contributed by Carol Schapiro, Librarian, Midtown Library

A swallow visits the LCW library: What we can learn “from the birds”

LCW gets an unexpected visitor

The other day at Lander College for Women, a bird flew into the building. We were advised to close the door of the library to prevent the bird from flying in during the window of time it took to catch and release the bird into freedom. We did not want our visitor, the bird dubbed Larry, to build a nest in our books! The excitement of the “bird alert” reminded me of the important metaphor that birds serve in various texts. Continue reading

Bother A Librarian Today

young men at reference desk, early 20th century
A librarian’s dream: Patrons lining up at the reference desk! (image via NYPL Digital Collections)

“I hate to bother you, but…”

Just stop right there.

Librarians want to be bothered.

We are waiting for your questions.

Each question is an adventure. You ask for help; we go on a quest to seek the information. The puzzle to figure out the best keywords to pull up better articles is a mystery to be solved.  Continue reading

Stumpers: The Reference Librarian’s Worst Nightmare

Carnac the Magnificent
“Carnac the Magnificent” via Wikipedia

When I was a child I was my father’s accomplice in crime. (That’s a lie.)  When I was young, I was my father’s assistant in a magic act.  (That’s an overstatement.  Here’s the truth.)  Years ago, I was my father’s foil in a math trick he perpetrated on the neighborhood children. In this trick he made the kids select a three digit number (say 723), inverse it (327), then subtract it from the original.  The trick is that the remainder would be a three digit number whose middle number is nine, and the first and third numbers when added together always equal nine.  (Try it!) Why am I telling you this?  You’ll see. Continue reading