Generally, if something has a name, it's common enough to be recognized and talked about. Library Anxiety is a real thing and a very common experience! Here are some potential reasons library users feel anxious about interacting with a librarian, and why you can put those worries aside:
Also, sometimes it's just that the instructions you were given are wrong/out of date.
The only exception is that when people make threats to us or others, or commit harassment, we share documentation and IP addresses with college security and law enforcement.
English language learners, this message is for you too!
At the Ask A Librarian page, we have a web form for submitting an email reference question. Our reply will go to whatever email address you input, and your subsequent replies to our reply will also take place via email.
Email is ideal as long as you do not need the answer instantly. (We will answer within an hour or two if we are on duty. If you ask after hours, we will answer as soon as we are on duty again.) Email provides you the opportunity to ask your question with all the background details and nuances that you feel necessary. Composing an email gives people a chance to organize their thoughts and figure out their priorities. Email also leaves a record for you to consult later.
Email is the best option if you have a question that will take the librarian some time to answer properly. For example, if you are looking for a document that has been very hard to track down, or you need advice on how to perform a comprehensive or exhaustive search, email gives the librarian a chance to do the work before answering instead of trying to do it while answering. Email also gives the librarian on duty a chance to call in our colleagues for help in order to provide a better answer.
The librarians tend to go into more detail and format things more nicely in email answers than in chat answers, if that helps you make up your mind which to use.
Our chat box is located at the lower right of the library homepage, on the Ask A Librarian page, and in many subject guides and databases. One librarian monitors chat, phones, and email at a time during our "on" hours. During our "off" hours, chat is still active, but it is monitored by librarians from other libraries. They have the information necessary to answer about 80% of questions, but you should leave your email address so that they can forward you to a SUNY Empire librarian if they cannot answer your question. (We will get to it as soon as we are on duty.)
Chat is an excellent way to ask both quick and simple questions and in depth questions that may develop into further questions. It's also the quickest and most efficient way to ask for a link to something. Chat also leaves a record - when you end the chat, it will ask you for an email address, and you can choose to have a transcript emailed to you at that address. No need to worry about forgetting what was said!
Chat is adequate for being walked through completing a task, but we do not have screen sharing available, so if it gets complicated we may have to switch to a web meeting/classroom software.
The library reference "desk" has a phone number (800-847-3000 ext. 2222). This is the number you should call if you wish to speak to any librarian. You can initiate a call even if you are already communicating with us in another modality. Just let us know that you are already speaking to us about whatever you've been speaking about.
Because we are frequently away from our desks, you will often be asked to leave a voicemail with your callback number and question. Another option would be to hang up and email us with a request to be called - again, please provide your callback number, and question.
In general, phone is a good modality for quick questions, or if you need to be walked through performing a task. However it's a bad modality if we need to share URLs, long titles, etc. We can always go on chat while we're on the phone if we need to do that, so please have an internet-capable computer or tablet ready.
Some of our learning opportunities (webinars) take place via web meeting/classroom. Occasionally when we are already involved in a chat or phone interaction, we might switch over to web meeting/classroom software so that we can do screensharing. We generally do not turn on our camera or ask you to. You can ask if you would prefer cameras turned on though. Alternatively, you can ask to turn off both video and audio and communicate in the software's chat function.
We do not have the facilities to meet with students in person. There are no in person interactions with a librarian.
Here are some questions you should be prepared to answer:
@Home Library Workshops are library instruction webinars that take place via web meeting/classroom software, and involve seeing and hearing the librarian-instructor and communicating by voice and text with other students. There are participatory learning activities during the webinar. Viewing a recorded webinar, or listening without participating will not get you credit for completing the webinar.
However, we do have solitary, asynchronous (on your own time) equivalents for each webinar topic, if the timing or format of the webinars doesn't work for you.