Contemporary Canadian Government & Politics:
A Practical Research Guide

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8. Ask Your Librarians!
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Librarians:

University libraries and large public libraries have paid professionals (reference librarians) whose job it is to help researchers find the information they need.

Reference librarians are there for you, use them! There is nothing shameful about asking for their help. On the contrary, it is silly NOT to. There are always new sources, new reference tools and new databases coming out. Even the experts in a field have trouble keeping up, but this is part of a reference librarianís job. Also, most libraries have some materials that are not possible or easy to find using the library catalogue or other usual methods.

You can usually ask for assistance by telephone, e-mail, or in person, although the hours may be limited and the response time for e-mail requests will vary. The best way to ask for research assistance is in person.

Whichever method you use, ask for exactly what you would like to get; be as clear and precise as possible. If your question is general and vague, the librarian can only find general and vaguely useful sources. Donít just limit your request to the library resources you may expect to contain the information. Ask for the information you need and the librarian will be able to select resources that may be more useful than what you had in mind.

Tell the reference librarian what your research project is, what the purpose for it is, and what you are trying to find out or accomplish (there may be several different ways of getting the information you need and several formats in which the information comes; the librarian can only direct you to the most appropriate if he/she knows some of the details of your research.)

TIP: Not all reference librarians are created equal. Most university libraries have librarians who specialize in a particular subject or subjects. If you are doing serious research find out if you can make an appointment with the librarian specializing in Canadian government and/or politics for a private consultation. You will find contact information for librarians on most library web sites.
Librarians Libraries
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Introduction   Starting   Clarifying   Bibliographies   Finding & Evaluating
Primary Sources   Special Topics   Citing Sources   Ask Your Librarian!   Detailed Table of Contents

Created and maintained by Anita Cannon, Librarian
R. P. Bell Library   Mount Allison University   Mount Allison Centre for Canadian Studies
Last Updated: August 8, 2007
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