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Ask a Librarian Service Policy

Version: 2.0
Last Amendment: 11/12/2017
Approved by: Executive
Policy owner/sponsor: Executive Director, Library & Information Services
Branch contact: Coordinator, Information Services Development & Business Teams
Policy No: PD/39[v2]
TRIM File No: 57662
Date approved: 06/02/2018
Next review: 06/02/2020

Policy statement

The State Library of NSW supports you to find information in a variety of ways through our information and research service - Ask a Librarian. This policy is designed to help you understand what levels of support to expect from our staff.

When self-help tools and resources do not guide you to the information you need, support is provided through a range of channels which may include:

  • Online form
  • Face to face at service desks
  • By phone - (02) 9273 1414 (Staff can spend up to 10 minutes on your question during library opening hours)
  • By post:

Ask a Librarian Service 
State Library of NSW
Macquarie St 
Sydney NSW 2000

This policy is underpinned by the National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) Service Guidelines: Information and research services at NSLA libraries.

Target audience

Library staff, readers and researchers.

Operational requirements

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 and other information sources for you to do your own research
  • information researched by our librarians to respond to your enquiry.

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.

Response time

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 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 the 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. More information on our Interlibrary Lending Policy can be found on the website.

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. Visit our Ordering copies of Library materials page for an order form.

You can also find more information on the 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:

Student enquiries

We will help you by suggesting search strategies and relevant resources.

Your feedback

We encourage you to provide feedback regarding the Ask a Librarian Service and Policy which will assist us in the development of our services.


Managers and supervisors are responsible for managing processes relevant to this policy and communicating this policy to staff and readers.

Staff are responsible for understanding and complying with this policy.

Most relevant legislation:

  • Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)
  • Library Act 1939
  • Library Regulation 2010
  • Privacy and Personal Information Act 1998

Related and/or most relevant State Library and government policies: