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Policies: Reference Services
Reference services at the DeWitt Wallace Library support the educational mission of the college by teaching and guiding users in the research process. We place an emphasis on instruction and on helping people to become independent users of library resources and information. Our primary responsibility is to the Macalester community, however we also provide selective Reference service to visitors to our library. Reference services are confidential, although staff may consult with each other.
We provide the following Reference services: Service Desk In-Person, Telephone, Email, Online/Chat and Consultation Appointments.
Service Desk In-Person Service
We have a tiered staffing model at the Service Desk. Reference librarians staff the Desk during critical and peak usage hours, including early evening and selected weekend hours. Staff from other areas of the library also provide service at the Desk. A Reference Student Aide is at the Desk most of the hours that the library is open, including late evening and weekend hours when no Reference staff are available. The Student Aide is expected to answer directional questions and to refer other questions to library staff. Student Aides also are responsible for basic computer/printing troubleshooting. Reference questions are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Reference staff may make follow-up appointments for in-depth research needs.
Quick questions will be answered through telephone service. People with in-depth questions may be asked to come in to speak with a staff member. Reference staff are not able to leave the Reference area to retrieve library materials. If the telephone line is engaged, users are asked to call back. There is no voice mail on the Reference telephone. The Reference telephone is for library staff use only.
Email Reference service is mainly for the use of the Macalester community. Non-Macalester related questions may be answered as time permits. Questions relating to the unique collections of Macalester College will be answered or referred to the appropriate department. Reference staff answer or refer questions within 24 hours, except during break or holiday periods. People with in-depth questions may be asked to come in to speak with a staff member. Email questions are archived for library use only.
Appointments with a Reference Librarian are available for in-depth research needs. Appointments may be made at the Service Desk, through the telephone, or through email. We attempt to match research needs with a particular librarian's subject expertise.