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Ask a Librarian Service Guidelines
Approved by: Executive Committee
Owner/sponsor: Executive Director, Library & Information Services
Branch contact: Coordinator, Information & Access
Record no: 6002
Date approved: 09/09/2020
Next review: 09/09/2022
The State Library of NSW supports you to find information in a variety of ways through our information and research service - Ask a Librarian. These guidelines are designed to help you understand what levels of support to expect from our staff.
This document is underpinned by the National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) Service Guidelines: Information and research services at NSLA libraries.
Library readers, visitors, researchers and staff.
Depending on the nature of the enquiry, the Ask a Librarian Service provides:
- a suggested research strategy or guidance on the most appropriate books, electronic resources, original materials and other information sources for you to do your own research
- information researched by our librarians to respond to your enquiry.
When self-help tools and resources do not guide you to the information you need, support is provided through a range of channels which include:
- Online request form
- Face to face at service desks
- Phone - (02) 9273 1414
- Online Library Chat (This is currently being trialled)
Ask a Librarian Service
State Library of New South Wales
1 Shakespeare Place
Sydney NSW 2000
What we are able to do initially
- If you visit the Library and ask us for assistance, we will advise you on a research strategy, support you to use finding tools effectively and suggest appropriate resources.
- If you contact us by phone or online chat, we are generally able to spend up to 10 minutes advising on the most appropriate information resources to guide you in your search.
- If your enquiry cannot be answered in a short time frame, you may be referred to our online Ask a Librarian request form.
- You may also be referred to another information provider if that is most appropriate.
Online Ask a Librarian request form
This service is provided for:
- New South Wales residents or
- Anyone wishing to access information relating to the jurisdiction of this library (New South Wales) or
- Anyone wishing to access information which is unique to our collections.
What we provide:
- Up to 1 hour of research on each enquiry. We may spend more time on enquiries which require researching materials unique to our library.
- A maximum of 6 enquiries per reader per calendar year.
- We will provide a response within 7 working days.
- For enquiries which require researching materials unique to our library, we may negotiate a longer response time with you.
Advanced requests for special collections
- To request original material or rare printed material before you visit, use the Access to Special Collections Request form. This form can also be used to arrange an appointment to view supervised use material or to access unprocessed or restricted material. See our Access to Special Collections Policy for more information.
- We will provide a response to these requests within 5 working days.
Borrowing from the Library
- Some items in the collection can be borrowed by making a request through your public, academic or work library. See our Interlibrary Lending Policy for more information.
Requests for copies and images
- Requests for copies of specific items where all details are known (e.g. industrial awards, death/funeral notices, newspaper or journal articles) should be sent to our Document Supply Service. See our Ordering copies of Library materials page for more information, including an order form.
- You can also find more information on our website about ordering digital images and archival prints.
- If all details are not known, we can assist with the research.
- Once you have the details required you can order a copy of the item from our Document Supply Service.
Requests for transcriptions of items
- We do not offer transcriptions of items but we can provide details of a notice in a newspaper including the number of people listed and their names.
- If you would like an exact copy of an item please submit your request through the Document Supply Service.
Extensive or ongoing research
- For extensive or ongoing research, e.g. extensive family history research, newspaper searches or searches through boxes of manuscripts, we may ask you to visit the Library.
- You may prefer to employ a researcher from an appropriate organisation, such as Professional Historians Association NSW or Society of Australian Genealogists.
We will help by suggesting search strategies and relevant resources that you can use.
We encourage you to provide feedback regarding the Ask a Librarian Service to assist us in the development of our services.
- Managers and supervisors are responsible for managing processes relevant to the service standards outlined in this document and communicating these guidelines to staff and readers.
- Staff are responsible for understanding and complying with these guidelines.
Key related legislation and policy
Most relevant legislation
- Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)
- Library Act 1939
- Library Regulation 2018
- Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
Related and/or most relevant State Library and government policies
- Service Guidelines: Information and research services at NSLA libraries
- Web privacy statement
- Interlibrary Lending Policy
- Guidelines for accessing sensitive collections
- Reader and Visitor Code of Conduct
- Access to Special Collections Policy
- Complaint Handling Policy