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Desk Handbook: Reference Help

General handbook for policies and procedures at the Desk.

Reference as a Service

  • If a patron approaches the desk with a research question, or looking for a subject instead of a specific title, they should probably be referred to a reference librarian. 

    • “Do you have books on WWII?”

    • “Do you have films about women in comedy?”

    • “I need statistics on gentrification in Boston”

    • “Do you have X book, or something like it?”

  • For the last example, follow-up questions are important to determine whether a Reference Librarian is needed:

    • “Do you have Bossypants or something like it?” “I can check. Are you writing a paper on it?” “No, I just want to read a book by a female comedian.” – You can probably answer this.

    • But if they needed books or articles on a specific topic – women on SNL, for example – they might benefit from the help of a Reference Librarian.

If they DO need a reference librarian, they have a few options: 

  1. We can call Trish and/or Lindsay to see if either of them are available to help. Call from the Desk phone; Trish's extension is 1844 and Lindsay's is 1567 
  2. Schedule an appointment with a reference librarian. Trish and Lindsay, our two reference librarians, are available to help via appointment, which you can help schedule or show students how to schedule - here is where they schedule a reference appointment
  3. For immediate help if a reference librarian is not available, the Access Services Librarian Sydney can provide some reference help as well, so if she is in, you can redirect the patron to her. 

Reference Books

  • Our reference book collection lives mostly on the first floor of the library
  • Reference books will all begin their call numbers with "REF" 
  • Students and staff are not allowed to check out reference books
  • Faculty can check out reference books, but it requires a Sierra override from a library staff member 


  • What is a periodical?
    • A periodical is a journal, typically from a subscription that the library subscribes to
    • This includes the New York TimesConsumer Reports, and the Easton Journal (Easton's local newspaper) 
    • We have both physical and online periodicals
  • Our current periodicals (within the last year) are on the first floor, by the South End of the library
  • Periodicals from more than a year ago are bound and put on the second floor by the Technical Services office 
  • We also subscribe to Flipster, a digital magazine subscription for a multitude of magazines 
  • There are also completely online journals run independently of Flipster. These can be found in our catalog under Publications 
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