Research & Instructional Support

Services and Research Assistance

The RIS Department is the primary library unit responsible for helping you with your research as you learn how to use the library. We serve UW-Milwaukee students, faculty, and staff, as well as community users.

In addition to Ask a Librarian, we also provide more specialized services with Library Instruction and Research Consultation.

About Ask a Librarian

We offer in-person research assistance, as well as telephone and virtual reference services. Our Ask a Librarian page lists the various avenues and contact methods for getting help from a librarian.

We can:

  • Suggest strategies & methodologies for your question or topic - saving you time!
  • Teach you how to use the online catalog & electronic databases
  • Help you connect to sources on the Internet
  • Suggest appropriate resources & collections
  • Refer you to other libraries, individuals, or associations

The Ask a Librarian Desk is staffed by librarians and graduate assistants 81 hours/week when classes are in session [schedule of hours]. Hours change when classes are not in session.

Service Parameters

At times we can become busy! Please be patient and we will assist you as soon as possible. Due to staffing limitations, we cannot always provide extensive reference service. For more detailed research needs, a Research Consultation service is available.

While we may find answers to specific questions, emphasis is placed on teaching you to become more self-sufficient; while meeting immediate information needs, we also strive to improve the overall information literacy of library users.

Information needs are fulfilled without regard to the format of materials used. See our FAQ entry on My professor said "don't use the Web." Why? for more information.

Basic services are provided to all users without discrimination. However, because some services are extended only to UWM-affiliated individuals, we reserve the right to ask for identification. If you are not currently affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, we may only be able to reply to a question if it concerns UWM or some resource unique to the UWM Libraries. People not affiliated with UWM may be referred to their local library for research assistance. See lib-web-cats to locate your library's website.

Due to legal implications, we may not interpret legal, tax, or medical information sources.

User Responsibilities

To receive the best service, and in accordance with the UWM Libraries User Rights and Responsibilities, you are required to adhere to the following standards while obtaining research assistance. Repeated abuse of these standards may result in a loss of research assistance privileges.

  • Please be courteous and forthright when dealing with library staff.
  • Fully present genuine information needs. For example, please prepare a clear and precise question, or tell us in detail what problem you're encountering. The more details you give, the more likely we will be able to help you. Asking questions to which you already know or may obtain the answer is not acceptable.
  • Be willing to learn from us how to retrieve the information you seek by yourself. As a university library located within a learning environment, we are not primarily a question and answer service. We have a vast array of tutorials and guides that may already answer your question.

If you're ever stuck with your research, remember to look for the "Live Help" links at the bottom of most library web pages. We look forward to assisting you!