Library Research Help Services Policy

Angus L. Macdonald Library Research Help Services Policy


The purpose of the Library’s Research help service is to meet the information and research needs of all students, faculty, and staff of St. Francis Xavier University, as well as community members, in a timely and efficient manner, both precisely and courteously.


“Research help” is used broadly in this document to include all form of assistance to library users as they seek the information they need – from questions regarding library hours and access to assistance with complex research questions.

Research help providers

Research help providers may include librarians and other members of the library staff, as appropriate.

Research help services include

  • Providing accurate, timely and relevant answers to specific library and information-related questions.
  • Helping library users to develop research strategies for papers, theses and other assignments.
  • Assisting library users in locating, evaluating and using appropriate resources and services.
  • Providing instruction in order that library users may become self-reliant in their use of library resources.
  • Developing and maintaining Subject Guides to help library users discover relevant resources.

Research help services do not include

  • Interpreting material – research help providers do not interpret information such as legal, medical, financial, statistical information or class assignments.
  • Proofreading papers and/reference lists – While librarians can help with citation questions, we do not proofread papers or reference lists for errors.
  • Genealogical research – see the Genealogy Policy for Special Collections below.
  • Offering support for knowledge synthesis (KS) projects (scoping reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analysis, etc.) as a service. Librarian involvement in knowledge synthesis projects is optional and at the discretion of the individual librarian. When librarians do agree to participate in KS projects, they should be granted a co-investigator or collaborator status. Development and implementation of the search strategy for these projects is the data collection method and as such is a key component of the research. Librarians have the option to participate on collaborative research teams by developing search strategies for knowledge synthesis projects, documenting the search strategy, writing and/or editing the methods section of the paper in terms of this aspect of the research, and possibly lend their expertise to the project in general. When they do so, the research generally supports their own research or professional development objectives and they negotiate authorship with the principal investigator. If the research project in question is outside the scope of the librarian’s interest or expertise then they will decline the invitation to participate in the research project.

Genealogy Policy for Special Collections

  • Special Collections encompasses the music/microfilm and Celtic Collection of the Angus L. Macdonald Library at St. Francis Xavier University.
  • The Music/Microfilm room houses microfilm and indexes for the local newspaper. The Casket is a trusted and well used source for genealogical information. Indexes were created in-house and are used extensively as a finding aid for locating obituaries and related information.\
  • The staff member locates and scans items on demand, however this service does not include doing extensive research. Names of professional researchers may be provided if appropriate.
  • The Fr. Charles Brewer Celtic Collection has genealogical resources, such as guidebooks, local histories and clan histories. These items can be consulted in the collection and some guidance will be provided. It is not a primary focus for the collection.

Reference Collection

  • Librarians are responsible for maintaining an up-to-date and readily accessible working collection of reference materials, both electronic and paper. This Reference Collection includes general dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographies, bibliographies, indexes, directories, almanacs, handbooks, statistical resources, and atlases.
  • Print reference materials may be used in other areas of the Library. Print reference materials are NOT allowed to be removed from the Library, unless permission is granted by the Research Services Librarian.
  • The Reference Collection must be kept current and reflect the immediate needs of library patrons. Students and faculty are encouraged to alert librarians to the presence of outdated resources, and to suggest new acquisitions for the Reference Collection.