Restarting the Libraries · Coronavirus Library Services FAQ

About Research Assistance Services 


The primary goal of the Binghamton University Libraries’ Research Assistance Services is to provide help to the University community in identifying and accessing an extensive range of print and electronic resources for teaching, learning and research.

Research Assistance staff aim to help users become self-sufficient in their use of information resources. Whenever possible, staff will help users to refine their inquiries, understand the range of available tools for answering questions, and select appropriate resources.

Services: We offer open and equitable access to information by providing both a physical and a virtual environment conducive to positive interaction. We develop collections and services appropriate to our community and in keeping with the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Research assistance is primarily intended for the faculty, students, and staff of Binghamton University but non-campus members will be provided with assistance. Assistance is available on site, by telephone, and through the online Ask a Librarian service. Users in need of more extensive assistance may be advised to visit the library or be referred to a subject librarian for additional research and reference assistance. While using our research assistance, users may be helped by subject librarians, professional staff, or well-trained student assistants.

In-person Assistance – Our personalized assistance is available to help you discover the rich collections in the Libraries, identify and use electronic and print reference tools, formulate research strategies, locate research material worldwide, and answer specific informational questions.

Telephone Assistance - Assistance given by telephone will generally be brief.

Ask a Librarian – We provide assistance via email and through a variety of virtual reference services. Responses to email inquiries will usually be sent within twenty-four hours except on weekends and holidays. Assistance given through Ask a Librarian will generally be brief.

Research Assistance Staff will

  • Conduct all transactions with professional courtesy, respect, and confidentiality.
  • Be approachable and communicate in a receptive and encouraging manner.
  • Make every effort to ensure that each reference interaction is as simple, enjoyable, and positive as possible. We will listen attentively and respond to each question or concern.
  • Be flexible in addressing user needs and requests.
  • Take responsibility for ensuring users get the information they need or show users how to find the information themselves.
  • When appropriate, refer either the user or the user’s question to appropriate sources such as subject librarians, professional staff, University departments, the Information Technology Services Help Desk, online resources, or other libraries or organizations that can provide the needed information or assistance.
  • Stay aware of student support services offered on campus, such as the Writing Center and the Discovery Program, and make referrals to these program and other campus units that can meet student requests.
  • Treat all users in a consistent manner following established library policies and procedures.

Code of Ethics - All interactions between library staff and patrons will be governed by the standards articulated in the ALA Code of Ethics which upholds principles of intellectual freedom, protecting each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality, and striving for excellence.

Legal, Medical, Business Advice - We cannot provide legal, medical, or business advice. Patrons will be referred to sources of information from which they may draw their own conclusions. We endorse the ALA Guidelines for Medical, Legal and Business Responses.

Assessment - Research Assistance staff periodically monitors the quality of services provided to see that they meet or exceed established service standards. We also provide opportunities for users to offer feedback and recommendations regarding these services and will respond to this feedback in an appropriate and timely manner. Users can provide feedback regarding the Libraries' Research Assistance Services using the Comments and Suggestions form.

These guidelines are based on the ALA Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers.


Last Updated: 3/6/20