Have questions about the online collections of the Library of Congress and effective ways to use them in the classroom? Help might be just a few clicks away.
The Ask a Librarian feature on the Library’s Web site puts you in touch with Library staff—including me—and is an excellent place to turn for information you can’t find elsewhere on the Library’s site. If you look at the top of the Library’s home page you will see three boxes. The first one is titled “Ask a Librarian.” When you click on “Ask a Librarian,” you are taken to a page that lets you choose how you want to direct your question.
If you are a teacher, or have questions about teacher resources from the Library, you should select “Resources for Teachers.” Fill out the form found on that page to ask a question. Please make sure to list any resources you have already used in your research. If you list a source I might have already used in my research, I can move on to other possible resources. You should receive a response from me or another Library of Congress staff member within five business days.
What kinds of questions do I find in the Resources for Teachers email box? Some students mistakenly believe Ask a Librarian is a homework helper service. I’ll refer them to appropriate resources but leave the actual homework to the students themselves. Some users ask me for assistance with research on education policy. I refer those questions to experts in other parts of the Library. A lot of people ask about cataloging books in their libraries. If they need a call number I’ll try to locate the call number, but if they need more detailed information I refer it to a Library staff member who specializes in cataloging.
I also get some interesting questions. One question asked about the largest denomination of money on Yap. I did find some resources that helped that user.
The questions I can provide the most help with are questions about the Library’s teacher resources and strategies for using them. Some people need assistance in locating primary sources for classroom use. Others are looking for lesson plans for a specific topic. I get a lot of questions asking about copyright and how to properly cite our resources. Some are interested in our professional development programming. I love helping teachers find the resources they need.
Have you used the Ask a Librarian feature in the past? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.