This service is intended to provide answers to brief, factual, or ready reference questions from any user; affiliation with Ball State University is not required. It is outside the scope of the E-mail a Librarian service to fax, photocopy, scan, summarize, or otherwise recreate and/or send copies of text from library resources to any user.

A user's question may be sent from the Ask a Librarian webpage,

The user may expect a reply within 24 hours after receipt of the question for inquiries sent during regular business hours; questions submitted outside regular business hours will be answered within 24 hours of the librarian's reading of the E-mail a Librarian inquiry. An Information Services daytime librarian will check the E-mail a Librarian account at least twice daily between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Information Services librarians working after 7 p.m. will share responsibilities for periodically checking the account and responding to emails in the evenings, Sunday through Thursday. If an answer to the question cannot be provided within 24 hours, the librarian will respond to the user within 24 hours to acknowledge receipt of the question and note the status of the search, and follow-up with an answer as soon as possible thereafter.

A user needing faster service should telephone the Reference Desk with a question, rather than using E-mail a Librarian. A user needing help with an in-depth question may be referred to the Bracken Library reference desk or Reference by Appointment services. Once a librarian has referred a user to another form of service, the librarian is under no obligation to continue the E-mail a Librarian transaction with the user.

To answer some requests, it may be necessary to consult with other University Libraries employees in one of the specialized collections or service areas such as Archives, Maps, Music, Science, or Architecture. By using this service, users agree to have their inquiry forwarded to other employees within the University Libraries, as appropriate.

The Ask a Librarian Coordinator maintains an archive of all E-mail a Librarian transactions. This archive is only accessible to employees of the University Libraries, and should only be used by librarians involved in maintaining the E-mail a Librarian account.


By using this service, the user agrees to have his/her E-mail a Librarian transaction recorded and archived for up to one year. Any identifying information that accompanies the transaction will also be saved for up to one year, including the user's name and e-mail address. The University Libraries maintains these archives for the purposes of follow-up and librarian training. E-mail a Librarian transactions may be stored on University e-mail servers, in a network folder on a University Libraries server, or in paper format in Information Services librarians' offices or at the Bracken Library Reference Desk. (Please note: E-mail a Librarian transactions completed before December 1, 2007, were archived in paper format; transactions completed on or after December 1, 2007, are archived in electronic format.)

Any user may request the deletion of his/her E-mail a Librarian transactions from the archives by contacting the Ask a Librarian Coordinator. Users will need to know the date of their transaction in order to make sure that it can be located and deleted.


If your question requires a detailed answer, we will probably suggest some useful search strategies and reference titles, and ask that you come to Bracken Library for additional assistance.