HELP!! A Patron’s Cry in the Night…

The assignments are piling up. The stress is ratcheting, and the pressure is rising. You have more links in your emails and Blackboard than in a set of chainmail. Time is actively fleeing, your internet is crawling, and now, every time you click on the library’s website, you can’t seem to find what you need. Argh! If only the Library offered some kind of way for you to get help — at the moment you need it — when you can’t get in the building!


Well, you are in luck, because we do! Whether you just need a quick answer on how to find a specific journal title or a more involved session on how to use your research time more effectively, you can message us on Facebook, reach us every weekday on Zoom and even set up appointments with us after hours and on the weekends, if that’s more convenient.


Finding us is simple.

TEXTING: We have a Facebook page ( When you click “Message,” your text is immediately sent to the personal Facebook accounts of four different UPSem librarians. You can catch our instructional services librarian, Dora Rowe, there, as well as our new reference librarian, Robin McCall. Ryan Douthat, our electronic services librarian, and Christopher Richardson, the Seminary Librarian, also monitor the Messenger account. All of us answer messages from Facebook, and if the librarian answering the question doesn’t know the answer, they know how to find the person that can! While we don’t monitor it 24/7, at least one of us usually has it running in the background of our computers during normal waking hours – and I won’t guarantee that a disturbed night’s sleep might not find us reading an occasional text at 3 am. (That would be me. I do that sometimes! — Dora)


ZOOM SHORT REFERENCE: For face-to-face questions, we also have what we call the Virtual Library Desk, which acts somewhat like a combination of our reference desk and IRC office. That makes sense, of course, as it’s staffed by our Richmond campus reference and instructional services librarians, Robin McCall and Dora Rowe. You can find it at: This was originally intended as a way to get immediate answers to short questions, like:


  • How do I cite this?
  • Can you help me find this article that my professor mentioned?
  • This database link isn’t working anymore. Can you help me?
  • Where can I find the online commentaries / dictionaries / digital resources?
  • How do I create an account in this website my professor wants me to use for an assignment?


If we aren’t busy, we can answer more involved questions on the VLD, depending on the nature of the question. After all, we are all specialists even within the library! Questions on educational technology, Christian education curriculum and that sort of thing more appropriately go to Dora, while the deeper reference questions and language discussions are much better handled by Robin. While we have some crossover, of course, when we venture into each other’s domains, we begin to “muddle through.” We *both* specialize in developing research skills online and in print, however!


ONLINE RESEARCH APPOINTMENTS: On the other hand, if you have the time, setting up a dedicated research appointment with us isn’t a bad idea. We won’t limit your question time to 15 minutes because we have another patron waiting unless the conversation has gone on for more than an hour. It’s the best way to get specialized help that might take a little more time. For instance, a session with Dora may involve using Zotero to create easy bibliographies for your paper, using advanced functions in MS Word, or searching multiple online resources (our databases, Google Scholar, Questia, DOAJ, the OADTL, etc.) more effectively.


These longer appointments may be made on the Library’s scheduling page, However, if our library hours (10 am -4 pm) aren’t convenient for you, please email us. And we can set up a time outside of regular hours. You can also message us on Facebook; while, as I mentioned, we don’t monitor it all the time, you can usually catch one of us online at any (non-early morning) moment.


So, even in the pandemic, with reduced hours and a seriously odd and distant year, you can find us. We want to help. Please do *NOT,* at any time, think that buzzing in on us is a bother or an imposition. Even if it’s after hours and we are all oddly unavailable, we will get back with you quickly, and we want to help!