Reference: General Information
The Reference Department is the primary reference area for Memorial Library, the principal research library on campus for the social sciences and humanities. Its primary clientele are the students, faculty, and staff of UW-Madison, but it also serves researchers beyond the campus.
How to Get Help
- In person: Memorial Library, Second Floor, Room 262
- Telephone: (608) 262-3242
- Email: E-mail Reference Form
- IM/Chat (Ask a Librarian)
- Department Head: Nancy McClements (608) 262-8271
The Reference Room is open the same hours as Memorial Library.
Reference/Information Desk hours vary by time of year and during holidays.
Reference: How We Can Help
A skilled staff of reference librarians is available to help with using the library and its resources. They provide assistance in person, by phone, by e-mail, and by electronic chat. Librarians can assist library users:
- Conduct their research more efficiently
- Understand advanced search techniques
- Navigate and interpret library and Internet resources
- Manage and organize information
- Assist with grants research
- Locate government documents
- Identify experts in and beyond Memorial Library
- Place interlibrary loan and document delivery requests
- Find factual information
The Reference Collection is a collection of atlases, bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference materials in print and electronic formats. Many materials in the print collection are located in the large room labeled "Reference Stacks" to the east of the Reference/Information Desk. Additional materials are located in main Reference Room (Room 262) including often-used materials behind the Reference/Information Desk. There are also materials in the general stacks. See brief collection information.
The Grants Information Collection is a collection of information and resources on grants and funding. The Web site provides information about the collection, services, workshops, and handouts. Help with grants is available from any reference librarian and the grants librarian. See brief collection information.
The Government Documents Collection includes government publications from all over the world. The Web site provides information about documents and guides for finding and using them. Help with government documents is available from any reference librarian and the government documents librarian. See brief collection information.
Reference: Selected Guides
Reference: FAQs about the Reference Department
- When is the best time to get extensive help from the reference librarians?
Early morning (9:00 - 11:00 am weekdays) is generally the least busy time in the Reference Room.
- Can I check out a reference department book?
No, reference books are non-circulating. However, you may scan pages and then email or download to disk.
- Can I take a reference book out of the Reference Room?
You are encouraged to use reference materials in the Reference Room, but they can be taken anywhere within the library. Please return them to Room 262 shelving table when finished or their return to the proper location may be delayed.
- Can I take a reference book to the InfoLab in Room 140?
No, reference books cannot be taken to the InfoLab because it is outside of the security gates. A collection of print ready reference books (dictionary, thesaurus, etc.) is available in the InfoLab or use electronic reference sources. You may scan pages and then email or download to disk.
- Is there a photocopier I can use in the Reference Room?
There is no photocopier within the Reference Room. You may take reference materials to any photocopier in the building. The closest one is in the elevator lobby of the second floor. Please return materials to Room 262 shelving table when finished photocopying or their return to the proper location may be delayed. You may also scan pages and then email or download to disk.
- Where are the books in Room 262?
Books with the MadCat location "Room 262" are in the large room labeled "Reference Stacks" to the east of the Reference/Information Desk. Books labeled "Center Cases," "Reference Desk," "Wall Cases," and "Atlas Cases" will be found in the main large Reference Room. The Grants Information Collection is in Room 262D/E.
- Why are certain books kept at the Reference/Information Desk? Am I allowed behind the desk?
The books at the Reference/Information Desk are there because librarians need to find them quickly to answer the most commonly asked reference questions. Please feel free to use them at any time. Just return them to the Desk when you are done.
- Why are certain books and materials kept locked under the Reference Desk?
Those materials are restricted either because of previous theft problems or high use. An ID is required for their use.
- Is Reserves the same as Reference?
No—"Reserves" are classroom-related materials that professors place on a special limited checkout system. Unless otherwise noted, Reserves are located in the College Library Reserve Collection, Helen C. White Hall.
Subject-specialist librarians assist with research related to areas in which they have in-depth knowledge and expertise. Some of those areas include specific fields, languages, geographic areas, historical periods, or types of materials. They also select materials for the collection in their area and provide liaison services to academic departments.
Some of the many ways subject librarians can help include identifying the best sources for research in a specific area and providing one-on-one consultations.
Subject guides offer help for doing research and using library resources specific to subjects.
Appointments for Individuals
The Libraries offer support with tools for managing citations including RefWorks and EndNote. Both tools allow you to download records from MadCat and journal databases; organize and search references; and format bibliographies and notes within documents. For more information, see Citation Managers.
JSTOR: The Scholarly Journal Archive provides access to back issues of more than 500 journal titles in a wide array of disciplines. These three short videos will walk you through the process of accessing, browsing, and searching JSTOR. The videos require Flash Player.
Memorial Library has a number of language specialists that can assist with the translation of catalog records in multiple languages. Please ask at the Reference desk on the 2nd Floor for assistance with these questions.Examples of other translation needs might include:
- Translation as part of an assignment. (Tutoring).
- Translation of entire texts (e.g. articles, chapters, letters) from one language to another.
- Someone to serve as translator/interpreter between two entities (at hospitals, clinics, schools, conferences, social events, in court, class, lectures, other aspects of personal life)
- French and Italian list of translators and tutors.
- Spanish and Portuguese list of translators and tutors.
- German list of translators and transcribers.
- The campus provides translation services via the Office of Cultural Linguistic Services. They primarily provide services to the university for business/academic/outreach purposes. They have translation services for the following languages: Spanish, Italian, French, Hmong, and Lao.
- Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
- Language Line Services Telephone: 1-800-874-9426 (for interpreters). All Job Centers have a Language Line. Other agencies may contact The Language Line Customer Service at 1-800-752-6096 for costs and languages available. This service is available for oral interpretations, and can be used as a short-term solution; i.e., initial contacts or in an emergency.
- Tele-Interpreters P: 1-877-835-3486 (1-877-TELE INT) This is an oral interpreter service that allows for real time three-way conference call whether receiving or placing a call.
- International Institute of Wisconsin 1110 N. Old World 3rd St, Suite 420, Milwaukee, WI 53203 P: 1-414-225-6220: This is an oral interpreter service that allows for a three-way conference call whether receiving or placing a call.