Library Assistance Procedure


Last reviewed
Tue, 25 October 2016

This document is prepared to outline procedures which place some boundaries around the degree to which librarians should assist students. 

Approved on: 12 Apr 2016
Review cycle: 1 Year
Owned by

Learning, Teaching and Research Committee

Approved by

Learning, Teaching and Research Committee

Policy Contact: 
Resource Centre Manager

Librarians require guidance in responding to student enquiries similar to “How do I answer this assignment question?”


This document is prepared to outline procedures which place some boundaries around the degree to which librarians should assist students. 


Suggested general practice

  • The Library is to have at least one staff member present during nominated opening hours.
  • During peak periods there is to be one staff member dedicated to patron service.
  • When a patron enquiry is likely to be time-consuming and there are other patrons waiting the librarian will attempt to organize another mutually convenient time to assist the patron.
  • Study skills days and library tours are to be actively promoted.
  • Academic staff members will advise the Library of resources that are likely to be in high demand (before this demand occurs) so that these resources can be placed on restricted borrowing.
  • Librarians are to promptly and courteously answer any questions related to the OPACs and electronic databases. Where a patron demonstrates a consistent lack of competency the patron is to be strongly encouraged to attend a computer skills, study skills, Resource Centre tour, as appropriate.
  • Librarians are to highlight user guides available.
  • When a patron asks to be pointed to where a resource is, librarians shall direct them to the OPAC, user guide etc.
  • When a patron wants to be directed to a particular section in the library, the librarian is to encourage the student to take the lead.


Suggested practice relative to assignments

  • Librarians are to respond to questions about assignments by gently redirecting the question back to the student. Students will be encouraged to reflect upon guidelines given during study skill days and contained within the assignment style guide.
  • Librarians will suggest search strategies including Boolean functions as appropriate.
  • When a student is having difficulty finding material, librarians shall consider directing them to appropriate dictionaries, encyclopedias and commentaries. When sophisticated search strategies highlight a paucity of resources the librarian is to advise the Resource Centre Manager.
  • When an assignment question has a degree of complexity or ambiguity the student shall be directed back to their lecturer.
  • Librarians shall monitor the search process and if a patron appears to be frustrated attempt to offer assistance.