Policies: Research Help Services


Research help 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. While our primary responsibility is to the Macalester community, we also provide selective research services to visitors to our library. Research help is confidential, although staff may consult with each other.

We provide the research assistance in person, or by telephone, email, or chat.

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Service Desk In-Person Service

We have a tiered staffing model at the service desk. Research 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 student aide is at the desk most of the hours that the library is open, including late evening and weekend hours when no research help 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. Research questions are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Research staff may make follow-up appointments for in-depth research needs.

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Telephone Service

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. Research librarians are not able to leave the service desk area to retrieve library materials.

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Email Service

Email research help 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. Research librarians 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.

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Consultation Appointments

Appointments are available for in-depth research needs. Appointments may be made at the service desk, by phone, or via email. We attempt to match research needs with a particular librarian’s subject expertise.

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