Skip to main content

Research Help: Which option is best for me?

This page provides information about reference services at Southwest Minnesota State University Library.

The Research Help Desk is now located on the 3rd floor of the library!

Why all these options?

With all of these different ways of contacting us, you're probably wondering: which one is the best? Which one will get you the answer you need quickly?

Good question.

The answer: it depends. On you. On your question. On us. 

The bottom line is that we always want to provide you the best service we can-- but that not all communication media is created equal, and sometimes trying to give a good answer via text just won't cut it. But sometimes it will!  

Email us

Email askref@smsu.edu when

  • you have a specific question that you can easily describe. (It's hard for us to read your mind over email-- it's much easier in person. :-) ) 

  • the reference desk is closed. We'll get back to you within a day during regular semester hours

We can answer questions best over email when you have one or two simple, well-defined questions. Here are examples of questions we answer easily over email:

-"I am an off-campus student. Can I have interlibrary loans delivered to my house?"
-"I am just starting to research signs of autism in young children. Where can I find journal articles about this?"
-"How can I renew my books online?"
-"My professor said he put some books on reserve at the library. Where exactly do I go to get those books?" 

Visit the research help desk

Visit the research help desk when

On-call research help (usually weekday mornings) is different from regular research help desk open hours only in that the librarian probably won't be at the desk when you arrive. You can let her know that you're there by calling the number posted at the desk or asking at Circulation. :-)

Schedule a Research Consultation

Schedule a research consultation when

  • you are facing a substantial research challenge or topic
  • you can wait at least 24 hours for your appointment
  • you want one-on-one, customized research help

We can answer your questions best with a research consultation when you are looking at a large project requiring multiple sources and/or you have other complex questions about the library's sources and services. 

Here are examples of questions that are best answered via a research consultation: 

-"I am researching the Cuban Revolution and I need to use both primary and secondary sources. Where do I start?"
-"I am trying to decide between researching early video gaming and researching present video gaming for my term paper. Which one might be easier?"

Text/IM us

Text 507-205-4898 or use the chat service on our website when

  • you have a quick question
  • the reference desk is open (If it isn't, we'll still get your text, but we won't answer it until the reference desk opens again.)

Here are examples of questions that are easily answered via text or IM:
-"How late are you open today?"
-"Where's the Writing Center's website?"
-"Do you have laptops I can check out?"