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Ask a Librarian Chat Service

By Jane Suda, Head of Reference & Information Services; Katie Wolf, Science and Technology Librarian; & Evan Frankl, Reference Librarian at Fordham Westchester Library

Libraries provide a special place that is separate from the rest of the world. It’s part of our ethic and our mission to provide a variety of spaces to read, write, study, and focus, both privately and collaboratively. Libraries are so much more than just a physical place, and they yield the most benefits to those who actively engage with the staff and collections. The Fordham Library collections include historical, rare, and cutting edge materials; but most importantly we have professional librarians to help you find the best resources for your needs! Ultimately, the library’s goal is to make research easier for you. That means being there for you, however and wherever you’re doing your research.

Different researchers have different needs, and so we’ve created a reference system that is designed to be there whenever you need it. If it’s late at night, and your paper is due tomorrow morning, we’re there for you. If you’re in another state or can’t get to campus, we’re there for you. Want to ask a research question privately, we’re there for you. With our 24/7 Ask a Librarian chat, we’re able to help you at any time, from anywhere in the world. All you have to do is click to chat and type in your question!

Have you ever used the Fordham Libraries’ Ask a Librarian chat service? Did you know that last year, 3,476 questions were answered via the Fordham Libraries chat service? Wondering what the chat is like? Take a look:

Curious where to find the chat? Head to the Fordham Library Website and check out the header – the Ask a Librarian chat is the second one from the left. Right here:

Click the words Ask a Librarian and you’ll be taken to the chat box. Type in your question, then press enter, and help is on the way!

The Ask a Librarian service instantly connects you with a librarian, who can answer your questions about books, multimedia, databases, research guides, and citation formats. As well, direct links to the resources you need can often be provided through the service. If you have technical difficulties with the Library resources that you can’t seem to solve, we may know about the problem and the work-around.

It’s important to know that it won’t always be a Fordham Librarian chatting with you. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) works together to make sure a librarian is always there to answer your questions. We have a backup system to our backup system – so that 2 a.m. “I need a peer reviewed source” request will always be answered by a professional librarian. On Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day, when everyone should be taking a break, there is no service. 

During Fordham business hours, you will be chatting with a Fordham librarian. Otherwise, we have created detailed instructions to show the AJCU chat librarians how to help you. If your question can’t be fully answered in the chat, the chat librarian will ask for your email address. Your email and the chat transcript will be forwarded to the library for follow up. 

In some instances a librarian may recommend an in-person or Zoom consultation (check out the list of liaison librarians to see which librarian is best equipped to help you). You can also drop in at the Reference Desk to ask questions. Remember libraries are so much more than just a physical place, and they yield the most benefits to those who actively engage with staff and collection. You may request a consultation with a reference librarian when you want or need one. You have probably lived most of your life in an “I need it yesterday” world. Over the last decade, you’ve learned “there’s an app for that!” Maybe now is the time for you to consider that there is also “a chat” for that!

So give the Ask a Librarian service a try.
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