Research Help Policy

Mission and Purpose of Research Help

Research Help of Memorial Library is an active, responsive service centered on providing students and faculty with in-depth assistance in using information resources available through the library's services.  Librarians engage users through staffing a stationary desk, through current and emerging technological means, and by appointment.

Did You Know?

Librarians can teach you serious research kung-fu.                  What Kind of Help is Available
You can chat with a librarian 24/7.                                              Services
You're never interrupting.  We're here for YOU.                           Best Practices
We strive to offer current, relevant services.                              Quality
What happens in Vegas the library, stays in Vegas the library.  Confidentiality

What Kind of Help is Available

Research Help welcomes questions from all people affiliated with SUNY Cortland, the surrounding community, and beyond.  Librarians can help you:

  • Find a book
  • Develop or narrow your research topics
  • Develop search strategies, a transferable skill that you can use to improve the efficiency and thoroughness of your database and Internet searches
  • Identify resources by recommending “best bet” resources for a particular project
  • Access resources, including databases, books, and other materials; materials not available within Memorial Library’s collection can be requested from other libraries via interlibrary loan
  • Cite sources in a variety of styles
  • Use citation managers and other research tools
  • Evaluate resources using established criteria (including currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose)
  • Use specialized databases to address discipline-specific needs (e.g., to identify books for a particular reading level, to access online collections of art, to identify chemical structures, etc.)

Students aren’t always sure if they have a “research question”: please ask anyway!  Librarians also answer general questions and make referrals to other academic programs on campus when appropriate.


Research Help Desk:  Drop by the Research Help Desk in the main lobby, no appointment needed!  When classes aren’t in session, ask for a librarian at The Help Center (main desk) and the librarian on call will assist you.


Email:  For help with reference questions, please email the librarians at  You should usually receive a reply from a librarian within 24 hours.  When emailing, please include the following information:

  • Name
  • Course Name or Number that your question is about
  • Email Address
  • Your question

Phone/Text:  Call 607-753-2590 or text 607-341-7883 with simple questions.  You can also text a librarian if you would like to request help elsewhere in the library; perfect when you’re on the third or fourth floor finding a book and need a hand!

Appointments:  SUNY Cortland students and faculty can make one-on-one Research Help Appointments with a librarian that specializes in their area of study (subject liaison).  Whether you’re working on a challenging paper or a thesis, your subject liaison can work with you to improve the efficiency and thoroughness of your searches.  In addition to the kinds of help described above, subject liaisons are experts in the resources, methods of research, and citation styles of your discipline.  When you request your appointment, in addition to information about your project, please provide the time of day that best suits your schedule.


Best Practices

Librarians will engage in conversation and questioning (i.e., the reference interview) to assist you in clarifying your information need, identifying appropriate sources, and acquiring information.  Librarians will:

  • Assist you with searching, providing opportunities for you to actively participate and test out new search strategies and resources
  • Maintain a user-centered attitude and be approachable
  • Accompany you when appropriate (i.e. in search of books, staff, or other resources)
  • Demonstrate interest in your question and needs
  • Demonstrate curiosity
  • Maintain ongoing awareness of new developments with all library services, Information Resources, and the fields of librarianship and information technology
  • Promote active learning and collaboration
  • Create and regularly update online research guides to help you discover library and information resources
  • Refer you to additional support as needed



Librarians and library administration will regularly evaluate Research Help services using available data, including internal statistics and user feedback.  When considering changes or new Research Help initiatives, a process of internal and external review will be followed.



All Research Help interactions are considered confidential and individual rights to privacy are respected.  In accordance with NYS Civil Practice Laws & Rules, librarians maintain a record of questions asked but no personally identifiable information is recorded in the library’s statistics.




Last updated by Research Help Steering Committee, June 2016