Reference Services in the Time of COVID-19

As staff in Reference Services, my colleagues and I are used to shuttling between large wooden desks around the Central Library, answering the information line, and doing virtual reference to connect DPL customers with information. With the physical spaces closed and the phone lines silent, things have changed a bit, but we're still here (at least, in one sense of the word) to get you the information you need.

Here's how to connect with Reference Services during the closure:

Ask Us

Even if you've never been to the Central Library, you may have talked to Reference Services staff via email or via our chat service. Staff are able to keep up virtual reference from home, so if you have a question, please don't hesitate to ask us. During regular business hours, you'll get to talk to DPL staff, but through an international librarian cooperative, you can get your questions answered by a librarian 24/7. You can either visit or keep an eye out for the many chat boxes embedded on our various web pages. 

Appointment Services

Reference is the home of many of our one-on-one appointment services, including appointments for students, entrepreneurs, those researching patents and trademarks, and those interested in nonprofits. We're doing what we can to continue to connect with our customers in the appointment setting in a variety of virtual ways, including preparing resources to send over email or chat.

If you're interested in connecting with our staff about these topics virtually during our closure, please visit this page, scroll down to the heading Ask Us or Meet One-on-One, and select the topic that best fits your needs from the menu. From there, you'll fill out the resulting form and staff will be in touch.

Explore Our Database Collection

One way to connect with Reference Services is to access our content. It is the charge of public libraries to offer free access to a broad range of information. Reference maintains most of DPL's robust database collection, which is full of a lot of great, under-sung content. If you've already responded to the Census, caught up on your favorite eMagazines, mastered new language skills, completed your family tree, and pumped up the jams, we've got even more stuff you might be interested in. 

From our homepage, you can select the Research tab to see our menu of database resources. If you're feeling adventurous, Databases A-Z has databases from all topics woven together in a veritable tapestry of resources. If you know what you're interested in, our Popular Topics menu will connect you to a curated list that our staff have put together.

Here are some of the highlights in our database collection:

  • Popular Topics: Newspapers. If you love keeping up with news but burn through all your free articles, our Newspapers page has a variety of resources to keep you up-to-date with major newspapers without those pesky paywalls. For local items, check out our Denver News collection in America's Newspapers. We also have access to Major Daily Newspapers, which includes full-text content from New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.
  • CQ Researcher. If you've ever wondered about the arguments surrounding a hot-button issue but have trouble breaking out of the op-ed zone, look no further than CQ Researcher. Each of their reports is written by experienced journalists, professionally fact-checked, and full of more citations than you can shake a stick at. They also contain background info and sections explicitly outlining pro/con arguments.
  • CultureGrams. If your world feels small right now, maybe you can expand it a bit! CultureGrams is a resource for people of all ages to learn about cultures around the world. You can read fun facts about countries, look at photos, listen to national anthems, and lots of other things. There are even recipes you can try to break the stay-at-home doldrums. 
  • Learning Express Library. While our physical collections are inaccessible, Learning Express Library is a great resource for those seeking to study for exams or increase their skills, including college preparation, GED, and a wide range of exams for skilled trades. This resource includes eBook versions of study guides, as well as materials like practice tests.
  • Oxford Dictionaries. I don't know about you, but working from home means I am typing more than I ever thought possible. If you want to brush up on your writing, Oxford Dictionaries has helpful instruction on writing-related topics like definitions, usage, and even games and puzzles dedicated to words and grammar. (For true word nerds, you might also want to explore our Oxford English Dictionary access.) 

We've worked hard to make sure our databases have something for everyone. Explore, have fun, and feel free to contact our staff using email or chat if you need help accessing these resources.

The image for this blog post comes from Alpha Stock Images and is shareable under a Creative Commons license. Learn more about this image here

Written by Lauren on March 23, 2020