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Library Services Guides

Email Research Assistance

General Email Research Assistance is available to students, faculty and staff of San Francisco State University with valid SFSU Internet accounts.

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 one of the other online research resources.

Service Guidelines

The E-mail Reference Service 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-SFSU 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.
  • The E-mail Reference Service 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 E-mail Reference 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.

Submitting a Research Question

To submit a research question, send a message to libref @

Other Research Resources

"Ready reference" refers to general, commonly-used materal 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.

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