Online Reference - SUNY Cortland

Online Reference

Who can use these services

email reference service is intended primarily for the students, faculty, and staff at SUNY Cortland. Live Chat reference is intended for the SUNY Cortland community and people affiliated with SUNY Cortland. Users who are not affiliated with SUNY Cortland will not have access to licensed databases.

What is available from email or chat reference

Email and chat reference are designed to answer brief, factual questions such as verifying a bibliographic citation, looking up spelling or a definition of words, or finding addresses of companies. We aim to provide reliable information, but the user must determine which sources meet their particular needs.

We will also help with research-related tasks, including brief instructions in using the library online catalog, databases and other library resources. For in-depth research consultation, we will refer you to the appropriate subject librarian.

What is not available via email or chat reference

Librarians will not provide the following via email reference: salary information, answers to quiz or test questions, in-depth research (such as compiling a bibliography or searching multiple issues of a periodical), lengthy research consultations, delivery of electronic full-text of articles, or genealogical searches.

For book renewals, holds, and other circulation requests, please call the Circulation Department at 607-753-2526/2527.

How long will it take to get a response

We aim to reply to email within two business days. Questions will be responded to by the librarian on reference or referred to the appropriate subject bibliographer.
If the latter, the person submitting the question will be informed that their question was sent to a specific librarian and that librarian’s name and contact information will be provided.

Questions submitted to Chat Reference will be answered on a first-come, first-serve basis if there are no in person or telephone reference questions.

Email/Chat privacy

Memorial Library respects users' privacy, but we cannot guarantee the privacy of files, electronic mail, or other information stored or transmitted electronically. When providing chat reference, the Library will only collect the minimum personally identifiable information necessary for providing effective services and resources to our users.

What are the rules for conduct during the chat session

Chat reference requires patience and politeness. We ask that you be patient while waiting for a response from the library staff member. If the library staff member is assisting another library user, it may take a few moments before he/she can respond to your question. If you have time constraints, please inform the library staff member. Rudeness and harassment of library staff will not be tolerated. Any behavior deemed rude or harassing will result in termination of the chat session.

Address: is the appropriate address for Email questions.

Chat reference can be directed to cortlandrefdesk at AIM, Yahoo Messenger, or MSN Messenger.


  • The Coordinator of Reference will be responsible for gathering and analysis of statistics and presentation of reports related to online reference services.
  • Questions will be classified by the Coordinator of Reference as Directional, Reference Catalog Instruction, Online Database Searches or Feedback in accordance with in-person reference statistics required by the federal government.


The Coordinator of Reference will periodically evaluate the service, including user satisfaction. Email users will be requested to indicate their satisfaction with content, helpfulness, response time via an online satisfaction survey link.