New Concepts in Library Consultations

Have you ever had a difficult time finding just the right resources for a paper? One of my favorite aspects of being a librarian is providing reference support for students. I enjoy helping students discover how to find just the right resource and how to develop search strategies.

Traditionally reference service takes place at the Reference Desk in the Library. Now there are many venues where students and librarians can meet to go over research strategies and where students can ask questions. In addition to the reference desk, these include 24/7 Chat online, in-depth one-on-one consultations with a librarian, and on-site Roving Library Consultation services.  One on one consultations offer uninterrupted discussion, instruction, and research. Roving Library Consultation services take place outside of the library in academic departments and other locations around campus. In these sessions Librarians and students often use mobile technology to explore digital resources.Sarah Delany with Professor Robin Wright

One of my colleagues at Lehman College, Health and Human Services Librarian Robin Wright (in left photo, with student Sarah Delany) held numerous consultations with students since coming to Lehman last Fall. Students frequently hear about this service during her library instruction sessions. First they make an appointment and then they meet in her office, at the Reference Desk, or by e-mail or phone.  Sessions can last up to an hour.  Professor Wright says she enjoys offering this service because she is “able to focus on the student and their research needs.  Also, because the students schedule the time, they are more relaxed and focused.”

Ayelet Yoles, a student in the Master of Public Health program, recently met with Professor Wright to discuss how to research data for her epidemiology paper. “I learned about some new search engines,” she says, “and how to better navigate the ones I had been introduced to previously. These skills are invaluable to a graduate student. I also found a couple of good sources, which really helped my paper.”

In Spring 2012, the Library offered consultation services in academic departments around campus. Head of Reference Madeline Cohen conceived of this Roving Library Consultation service to provide in-depth support to students who might not otherwise come to the library. She observes, “These sessions are perfect for students looking into topics where appropriate sources are difficult to find. On-site consultations are also valuable for students who may not have time to stop by the Library before their class, but could use some help with their searching.”

My colleagues and I were equipped with laptops and iPads when we met with Lehman students in Carman Hall, the Music Building, and even in a professor’s office in the Sociology Department to help with strategies to find articles for research papers and bibliographies.

This service will continue in the Fall so be sure to visit the library website for updated information. Questions may be directed to librarians at the Reference Desk during Library hours at and at 24/7 chat service online Appointments can be made with subject librarians at

--Alison Lehner-Quam

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