E-librarian: asking a question


Asking a good question is half way to receiving a good response, so it is really important to spend a little extra time getting your question right before submitting to the E-librarian. If you were asking in person, we could prompt and you could explain until we finally hit the target of your research. However, when asking a question online, we don't have the luxury of going back and forth, so it is vital to be prepared and precise.

Your first stop before asking an E-librarian question should always be the TTRB. Searching here first can lead you to many more educational sources as well as many previous E-librarian questions. Another benefit for starting at the TTRB is that articles and questions are added daily, sometimes hourly, so it's a good way to review current educational information and you might find that your question has already been asked and published. But even if a previous question does not exactly match yours, the sources listed can still be used for your own future searches. Quite importantly, when you ask a question, be sure to tell us where you have looked, which will help us avoid repeating what you already have and it will give us a better idea of your needs.

The second step to asking a good question is to take a few minutes to word your question precisely. After searching the TTRB, you'll have a better idea of sources and now is the time to sift through what is and what is not important. Once you do, you should have a focus. Here again, take clues from the TTRB and previous questions. Be sure to consider details like age range, specific subjects, specific countries....) and decide what types of information you need (books, websites, journals...).

Part of being precise is also taking the time to use Standard English. Correct spelling and grammar will help us understand your question and the sooner we understand the sooner we can deliver a response. All questions receive a response within two working days, but a question that requires more information from you may take longer. Use direct language but avoid text-style. At the other end of the scale, don't list every source you have found, just mention main sources like the TTTRB or your own library catalogue.

Lastly, be sure to limit to one question and once you receive a response, consider using suggested search techniques for future searches. We value all questions and there are no bad questions. However, a good, prepared and precise question is 50% of an E-librarian response.


Transcript of podcast by:

Barbara Sakarya


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E-librarian, asking questions, research

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Personal professional development (Q7-9)

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