Service Philosophy

The R. A. Williams Library supports the instructional and service mission of the University. Reference and instruction strive to encourage independent learning yet also offer real-time reference services. Service excellence is the goal of reference. The reference librarians provide information retrieval assistance by sharing their knowledge on how to locate accurate, reliable information quickly and efficiently using both print and electronic resources. Reference and instruction are dedicated to delivering courteous and timely service in a professional manner.

Reference Service

Reference librarians are available to assist with users’ information needs during library hours.

As part of an academic institution, the library’s primary role is to promote information literacy by directing users to authoritative sources of information and teaching them how to use those sources. The library staff will not complete homework assignments, but they will assist library users with locating and evaluating information for assignments.

On-Campus Reference Services

A reference librarian can be contacted on campus by visiting the library, or by phone or email. Individual reference consultations are also available by appointment.

Online Reference Services

The library provides online reference services via LibAnswers.

Questions received via LibAnswers are usually answered within 24 hours, except on weekends and holidays or other times the library is closed. Librarians review messages at least once per day. Offensive or harassing e-mails will be deleted without a response.

All reference sessions are kept confidential. The library staff follow the Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. A count of interactions is maintained for use by library staff for improving service.

Reference Service Limitations

Service to Non-AHU Users – Reference services are intended primarily for faculty, students, and staff of AHU. Basic reference services are available to all who visit the library. The library staff will assist non-AHU users with questions about the library’s collection and services; however, the library staff retain the right to refer non-AHU users to other libraries and resources in the area.

Research for Faculty – Library staff can assist faculty with learning how to use library resources and assist with search strategies. Library staff are available for assisting with basic searches. At this time, the library is not staffed for completing research projects for faculty and staff. It is the responsibility of faculty and staff to complete their own research and homework. Library liaisons may offer more in-depth services to assigned faculty and staff at their discretion.

Class Assignments – Library staff and student workers help patrons locate information for class assignments. When a class assignment creates a concern, a librarian will contact the instructor about the present assignment and possible future assignments.

Legal, Medical, or Pharmaceutical Advice – The library staff cannot provide legal, medical, or pharmaceutical advice in response to reference questions. Library staff will direct users to sources on these topics from which users may draw their own conclusions.

Services for Persons with Disabilities

The library provides equal access to information to all who request it. For disabled persons, the library will make special provisions where feasible to permit the users to examine sources and conduct research. The library staff may request the assistance of the Center for Academic Achievement to assist a user.

Instruction and Library Orientation

Instruction includes, but is not limited to:

  • Class instruction
  • Individual Instruction
  • Individual research appointments
  • Small group instruction
  • Library Workshops/Research Seminars

Class Instruction

Class instruction sessions are available at a professor’s request. To request a class instruction session, a professor must fill out the instruction request form on the library website at least one week before the desired time. Once the request is submitted, a librarian will contact the professor to verify the session. Professors must be present during library instruction.

Professors are encouraged to plan ahead for instruction sessions and to schedule the sessions so they coincide with an assignment. Instruction sessions are most effective when connected with a graded assignment.

Library Workshops

Workshops provide supplemental instruction to class instruction. Students may choose to attend workshops on their own, or their professors may require or recommend attendance.

The head of instruction chooses the topics of library workshops and arranges presenters. The head of instruction schedules the workshops monthly. Each workshop is scheduled for multiple sessions to accommodate students’ availability. The digital services librarian posts the schedule to the library website so students can view the list of workshops and sign up for sessions.

Library Orientation

Library tours are offered at the beginning of each trimester and by request.


The LibGuides found online are created and maintained to direct users to selected resources available in various formats. These guides cover a variety of disciplines and topics and are continuously updated. The head of reference oversees the creation of the library research guides. The content is compiled and/or developed by library staff with welcomed input from faculty.