Ask a Librarian: Getting in Touch with the Library’s Experts

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 page from the Library of Congress.

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.

7 Comments

  1. john benson
    October 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    i was in the space industry. mostly with nasa contractors. i was there for the first 22 years. i have been asked to teach a course on being there for the first years at the local jr college. i have data back back thru 3000bc on rocketry. i could use some video and other data to enhance my own experience.

  2. Gail Miller
    October 25, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Where can I find information on calligraphy in the middle ages, ie: books of hours of the 15th century?

  3. Danna Bell-Russel
    October 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    To John Benson,

    Thank you for your comments. You may wish to contact our Motion Picture and Television Division to see what resources they have. I also suggest that you may wish to contact the National Archives and Records Administration’s Motion Picture, Sound and Video division for assistance. Also NASA may have some films for you to review.

    If you have additional questions I encourage you to use the Ask a Librarian form for the appropriate reading room.

    Good luck with your class.

  4. Danna Bell-Russel
    October 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    To Gail Miller,

    You may wish to use the Ask A Librarian form for the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library to ask your question. When you send your question please make sure to provide detailed information on the kind of information you are looking for and where you have already searched for your information.

    Good luck.

  5. Dino Costas
    January 16, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Please help me interpret the Greek writing on a plate which has two figures on it. One figure is of a man, the other is of a gargol creature from Greek Mythology I believe. I can email a photo of the plate when an email is provided. I believe the writing names the man and gives the Greek name for the gargol. Thank you so very much for your help. As we say in Greek, Yia Sou!

  6. Delaney
    September 16, 2020 at 7:30 pm

    This blog was very insightful on how students can connect with Library experts in order to get help with certain questions and get further guidance on research topics on the LOC website.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.