Email Research Assistance Guide

Email Research Assistance is available to students, staff and faculty of SF State with valid email accounts provided by the University.

If you are not affiliated with SF State, we are sorry that we can only reply to inquiries if they are about SF State history, library services, or unique materials from one of our special collections: de Bellis Collection, Labor Archives, or Special Collections/Archives. You may want to submit your general question via the San Francisco Public Library's Ask a Librarian Service or by utilizing another online research resource.

Service Guidelines

Email Research Assistance is provided to help users become self-sufficient in their research endeavors.

  • The Library provides advice on how to begin research with suggestions of possible print or electronic resources, search strategies, and other non-SF State libraries/resources, etc.
  • Whenever possible, users will be referred to electronic resources that may provide them with the information requested.
  • Questions you would normally ask at our Research Assistance Desks, you may ask through the e-mail reference service, such as:
    • Where would I begin to look for information on a topic?
    • I have looked in all the usual places, but where else might I look?
    • Does the Library have a subject librarian who could help me with this topic?
  • Citations to the source of information will be given whenever possible.
  • Interpretations of information will not be given.
  • Email Research Assistance does NOT provide information searches for users, create or check lists (e.g., bibliographies), or answer questions about medical or legal advice, citation form, statistics or class assignments.

Turn-Around Time

Your question will be forwarded to the Email Research Assistance Coordinator in the Library. Program-related and subject-related inquiries will be forwarded to the appropriate individual.

The Library aims for a 48-hour turn-around time, but response time may vary depending upon the nature of the inquiry. Most questions are answered the same day.

Submitting a Research Question

To submit a research question, send a message to libref@sfsu.edu

Other Research Resources

"Ready reference" refers to general, commonly-used material such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, atlases, etc. that for the most part provide basic, factual information on a given topic. The sources listed below can be accessed by anyone with access to the Internet.

  • American FactFinder: U.S. Census Bureau. Includes 1990 and 2000 Census of Population and Housing, the Economic Census and the American Community Survey.
  • Bartleby.com. Contains Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Colombia Encyclopedia, American Heritage Dictionary and Roget's Thesaurus.
  • CIA World Factbook. Profiles and maps of all countries and territories from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
  • "Essential Reference Tools" at refdesk.com. Includes links to almanacs, biographies, currency converters, maps, health information, telephone directories and much more.

J. Paul Leonard Library - Research Assistance Philosophy

Librarians at the Research Assistance Desk of the J. Paul Leonard Library are committed to user-centered and approachable reference services. Our purpose is to provide relevant point-of-need services, resources, and information that support the education and research activities of University students, faculty, staff and members of the community. Our goal is to teach and enhance information skills that are necessary for academic success and in life-long learning. We proactively respond to users' changing needs by continually evaluating their expectations and realigning services to better meet those needs.