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January 21, 2021

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Ask a Librarian

What is ask a librarian

Ask a librarian is a service that allows users to ask questions online and receive answers via email.

When can I ask a librarian?

Ask a librarian is online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

When can I expect an answer back?

We aim to answer questions within 48 hours, or before.

How does it work?

Ask a librarian is staffed by librarians working in public libraries across Victoria. A question is lodged on the enquiry page, which is then directed to one of the participating libraries. The librarian identifies the best resources for answering the question and then sends an email with their answer to your enquiry.

Who uses ask a librarian?

Ask a librarian is aimed at Victorians. However we have had enquiries from across Australia and overseas, and we will endeavour to answer these questions. We have had school children as young as eight years to adults as old as 82 use this service.

What can we answer?

We will try to answer any factual question to which there is a factual answer- but questions involving original research or opinions cannot be answered. We are happy to refer users to their local library or institution.

What questions will we provide sources only?

Questions relating to medical or legal matters. We cannot give legal nor medical advice, but we can direct you to the appropriate sites.

Family history queries- we do not undertake genealogical research, due to time constraints. We are happy though to direct you to any online resources or resources that exist at your local library or genealogical society.

What our service does not provide

We do not scan, send or fax material at this time.

We do not undertake original research- but we are happy to refer users to other organisations.

Are there any tips for asking a librarian?

Here are a couple of tips

  • Please provide your correct email address. As we reply via email, we cannot answer your question if you do not give us your correct email address.
  • Remember that this is a Victorian service. We will try to answer your enquiries, but you may find that the best source of information may lie within your country or state. Your local library may be able to help you.
  • Please provide a context for your question- as this is not a face to face interview, it is helpful for you to provide as much information as possible. For example a parent may use ask a librarian to ask a question to which their child needs an answer.

At the end of the question form we ask if Ask a Librarian can contact you in the future. This is so we can ask you to send us your comments on our service. The information you give us will be used for statistical purposes only and will enable us to improve the Ask a Librarian service.

…And Remember

Your local library is always available to help you with your questions!

Our Privacy Policy

For statistical purposes we ask questions relating to your age and location. Your personal details, such as your name and email address will be eradicated once an answer is sent to you. No personal details you provide will be published.

Your questions and answers are stored automatically to compile a file of frequently asked questions.This file will be enabled to be searched by users of Ask a Librarian.

Our Copyright Policy

Ask a Librarian provides information for non-commercial, personal or research use only. Pursuant to the fair dealing provision in the Copyright Act, Ask a Librarian may provide short excerpts of material that is subject to copyright protection. Ask a librarian may also provide links to websites as part of our answers. Ask a librarians does not monitor or control information accessible through the Internet, for the changes in content of the sources to which Victoria’s Virtual Library’s pages link, or for the content of sources accessed through secondary links.

Do you want to know more about ask a librarian?

Email for further information. This email address though will not answer reference questions.

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