The Reference Department is here to help you answer the following types of questions:
- Requests for brief factual or statistical information such as a date, looking up a phone number, etc.
- Guidance about how to begin library research or instruction about how to use the library's electronic resources including databases
- Provide information about the library's collection and services.
You can access the St. Louis County Library's Reference Department via telephone, email, chat, or at the Reference Desk located at the Headquarters location at 1640 S. Lindbergh Boulevard (across from Plaza Frontenac).
Reference includes providing help with the catalog and library computers, reader's advisory service, database and online assistance, bibliographic verification, interlibrary loan assistance, referral services, research assistance, school assignments, consumer information, and individual and group instruction.
The Reference Department cannot answer the following types of inquiries:
- Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Marketplace Questions: SLCL staff are unable to assist with advising or enrolling individuals and small business owners in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Those needing assistance will be referred to a local Certified Application Counselor.
- Legal Questions: Library staff members are not qualified to explain or interpret the content of legal reference resources, to make recommendations to specific lawyers or legal firms, to provide interpretation of legal information, or to perform legal statute research. Individuals who need legal assistance should contact an attorney. Library staff can read simple legal definitions or read and/or print out a legal statute at a customer's request only if the exact statute name or number is provided by the customer. Library staff can assist in locating contact information for legal professional organizations. Please feel free to visit the Headquarters location to conduct your legal research. All resources accessible from the St. Louis County Library are for general use and should not be considered legal advice in lieu of contacting an attorney.
- Legal and Tax Forms: Determining which legal or tax forms are needed must be done by the individual or you may seek advice from a legal or tax professional to obtain this information. If you know the exact form name or number, we can print out copies of the form for you. Costs for printouts is $.10 per page (black and white only).
- Medical Questions: We can read simple medical definitions; however, interpretation of medical information or diagnosis of symptoms should be provided by a medical professional.
- Online Shopping or Pricing Questions: Look up or browsing for online shopping listings such as Craigslist, airfare, eBay, Amazon, etc. are to be completed by the individual.
- Microfilm Research: If you have the specific date, name of publication, and title/subject , library staff may be able to assist you with a single microfilm article search if time and staff availability permits. If you do not have that information, please feel free to visit the Headquarters location to conduct your microfilm research.
- Copy Shop Tasks: All St. Louis County Library locations offer self-service copy machines and the Reference Department can make printouts of information or articles that we find for you and send them to your closest branch or mail them to your home address. Costs for printouts is $.10 per page (black and white only) and the cost for mailing materials to your home is $1 plus the per page costs. Mailing in or dropping off materials at the library to be copied by staff is prohibited.
- Questions per Call: Please note that due to time constraints and in consideration of all of our customers, we will limit the number of questions or lookups to five during each call. Also, due to time constraints, we may have to limit the reading of lengthy articles to you over the phone. We can print these out and send them to your closest branch or mail them to your home address at the prices mentioned above.
Due to heavy call volumes or if we cannot quickly locate the information, we may need to take your information and give you a call back.
Email messages are checked once a day when the library is open and we typically respond within 48 hours.
PLEASE NOTE: Inappropriate behavior or use of profanity will result in the termination of your phone call or chat session.