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WKU Libraries' Web Research Assistance Policies


It is our intention to help guide users in the quest for information and independent use of research methods.

What it is:

 WILLS (Western's Interactive Live Library Service) allows library patrons to obtain help from a trained Research Assistance specialist via instant messenger or e-mail.

Instant Messenger Research Assistance Service:

This service is an IM session which allows you to chat in real time with the research assistance specialist. WILLS is especially helpful if you who wish to get instruction on how to use a library database and only have one telephone line, since we are able to assist you are still connected to the Internet.

Email Research Assistance

You may also send us your question via email. Our email address is You will receive a reply within 24 hours, except during weekends or holidays. This service is helpful if you need assistance during the hours that WILLS is not available or if the question is a more lengthy research question. Some questions may take longer to answer; in this case we will at least let you know we received your message and will send an answer as soon as possible. If you don't get any response from us within twenty-four hours, it means we did not get your email, so please email us again or call the Research Assistance Desk at 270-745-6125.

Who can use the service?

The Instant Messenger Research Assistance is open to all. We will attempt to assist all who ask questions; however, due to contractual arrangements and legal provisions, we are unable to provide access to WKU-licensed databases for anyone other than our own faculty, staff, and students. You may be referred to your local library if we find we are unable to answer your question.

What kind of questions we answer:

The types of questions best handled via the messenger or email are ready research assistance (quick research and answer) questions and instruction in the use of our online catalog, indexes, and databases. Use this service to ask questions that you might ask over the telephone or at the Research Assistance desk: What was the population of Kentucky in 1980? I have an incomplete citation, what year was volume 7 of Monthly Labor Review published? What is the best index to use to find periodical literature for my research on the effect of classroom size on student learning? In-depth questions or requests for long lists of citations are not appropriate for this service. For this kind of assistance please visit the Research Assistance desk during regular service hours.

If your research assistance question takes a longer time to research than we can provide during a WILS IM chat session, we will either send an answer through email, or ask you to come in. If you are outside the local area, we might suggest you go to your local library for help.

Terms & Conditions

Before using our services, you need to read the applicable rules and policies pertaining to our web research assistance service. By using these services we understand you have read the applicable rules and policies regarding WILLS and e-mail Research Assistance service and have agreed to these rules and policies.

Rules pertaining to the questions submitted to our services:

  • We may refuse to answer questions.
  • We may refuse services to you if we determine you are not using our services in the way in which they were meant to be used, including, but not limited to, questions that are: illegal, harassing, libelous, threatening, harmful, obscene or objectionable, or that violates any applicable local, state, national, or international law or regulations.
  • You agree your question will enter the public domain, and you will retain no ownership rights to your question.

What our E-Research Assistance service does NOT provide:

  • We do not handle Interlibrary Loan or reserve materials from this service. We can answer questions about these services; otherwise, you can you can call Circulation at 270-745-3951 or Interlibrary Loan at 270-745-6118.
  • We do not renew materials for you from this service. For information on renewals, call Circulation at 270-745-3951.
  • We do not offer faxing, copying, or printing services from a distance. You must come into the library to obtain materials. However, if you are a WKU student taking classes on an extended campus, online, or through distance education, we will be happy to refer you to our Extended Campus Library Services office.
  • We will not answer or read information over the phone or via IM questions involving medical or legal advice, appraisals, product evaluations, etc.; however, we will suggest a source for you to consult.
  • We do not give criss-cross or reverse telephone directory information.


 All Research Assistance transactions are confidential. Please be assured this information will not be shared, sold, etc. outside of the WKU Libraries. For statistical purposes we will keep track of the questions and number of users but not specific information on the users. Transcripts may be kept for a period of time to help us evaluate our service and help us with collection development.

(Adapted from The New York Public Library and the University of Maine - Fort Kent Ask Librarians Online pages) Updated 8/21/06

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 Last Modified 2/8/16