Category Archives: Ask a Librarian

Research Help @ the Libraries

Need advice for end of semester research? Ask a librarian for tips, pointers or in-depth guidance about your research papers and final projects.

Come by the library during walk-in reference hours to speak to a librarian in person. Or Ask Us anytime via email, phone, text message or IM.

For in-depth assistance, schedule a one-on-one research consultation with a subject specialist librarian in your subject area.


Librarian Highlight: Cristina Ergunay


Name: Cristina Ergunay
Title:  Journalism Librarian
Subject Specialities: Journalism, social sciences, NYC resources
Contact Info:, twitter/JournalismLib
Library:  Journalism Library
@ Columbia Since: 2008

About me: "I’m here to help with journalism and reporting resources, including New York City neighborhood research and statistics, and historical newspapers. Some days you can find me at the Digital Social Science Center in Lehman Library."

What’s new at my library: ‘Tis the season for new style guides! Also, my new “Yoda” poster – stop by my office to take a look.

  • The Yahoo! style guide: the ultimate sourcebook for writing, editing, and creating content for the Web by Chris Barr, Journalism Reference TK5105.888 .B368 2010
  • Associated Press Stylebook Online

Personal favorites:


Schedule a Research Consultation with a Subject Specialist Librarian

If you’re thinking about your senior thesis, MA project, or PhD thesis, schedule a research consultation with a subject specialist librarian to get started.

Research consultations are an opportunity for you to meet one-on-one with a subject specialist librarian to discuss your topic and learn about relevant resources and research strategies. Consultations are available with each of our 40+ subject specialist librarians.




Schedule a Research Consultation

Librarian Highlight: Michelle Chesner


Librarian: Michelle Chesner

Title: Librarian for Jewish Studies

Subject specialties: Hebrew, Yiddish, Israel, Jewish Studies

Contact info:, 212 854 8046, 304 Lehman Library, International Affairs Building

Library: Area Studies

@ Columbia Libraries Since: 2010

Education Info: B.A History, University of Maryland; M.A. Hebrew and Jewish Studies, NYU; M.L.I.S. Long Island University

About me: "My personal interests lie in the field of rare Hebraica, specifically Hebrew incunabula, those first books printed just after the invention of the printing press through 1501.  I’m so excited to work with Columbia’s incredible Hebrew manuscript collection (the second-largest in the country) and the many other treasures I’ve recently discovered throughout the library."

What’s new at my library: Me!  I’m Columbia’s first Librarian for Jewish Studies.  We’ve also recently purchased:

  1. The Bar-Ilan Responsa Project, a full-text database of pretty much all Jewish religious texts, from the Torah to 20th century responsa
  2. The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (online and in print), a critical work which is the first of its kind
  3. Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, a fantastic resource with over 50,000 hours of video interviews of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust.  We are the only location in NYC to host this archive

Personal Favorite: RAMBI – The Index of Articles in Jewish Studies, a catalog produced by The Jewish National and University Library (now the National Library of Israel), which indexes articles across many books and journals relating to Jewish Studies.  It’s a great way to search for Jewish Studies articles, and often yields resources in unexpected places.

Recommended Resources:



Librarian Highlight: Anice Mills, Undergraduate Librarian


Librarian: Anice Mills

Title: Undergraduate Services Librarian

Subject specialties: Undergraduate research in all areas of the curriculum, especially in University Writing and the Core Curriculum.

Contact info:, 212-854-0520, 205 Butler Library

Library: Butler Library

@ Columbia Libraries Since: 2001

Education Info: BA, Russian Literature, Brandeis University; MA, History, University of London; MLIS, Palmer School, LIU.

About me: "Making personal connections with students and understanding professors’ expectations and requirements in Core classes are my strengths. I’m here to help you find the scholarly resources and research tools you need. I’m also your advocate in the Libraries so bring me your questions and concerns."

What’s new at my library: The Digital Humanities Center in Butler Library, room 305  —  an environment that provides technology and research support in one place. 

Personal Favorite: The LibX toolbar extensionfor your Firefox browser allows you to search CLIO, the Libraries catalog, from any webpage. It also connects you to library resources (full text!) straight from Google Scholar. This is a must for new students!

Recommended Resources:

  • EbscoHost Research Databases: Search across all subscription Ebsco databases, including America: History and Life Full Text, Econ Lit with Full Text, Film and Television Literature with Full Text, Gender Studies Database, Urban Studies Abstracts, and many more.
  • JSTOR: Full-text articles from more than 1200 scholarly journals.
  • Oxford Reference Online: Searchable full-text of about 100 language dictionaries and reference books published by Oxford University Press.



Librarian Highlight: Kathleen Kehoe


Librarian: Kathleen Kehoe

Title: Biological Sciences, Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics Librarian

Subject specialties: Biological Sciences including: Ecology, Physical Anthropology, Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics

Contact info:

Library: Mathematics & Science Library

@ Columbia Libraries Since: 1986

Education Info: B. A. Hunter College, MLS Columbia University

About me: "When I became a librarian in 1985 there were no computers in the library! I have worked through an exciting change– the development of the Digital
Library in the Science and Engineering fields. Everyday brings new resources and software tools for students, faculty and librarians."

What’s new at my library: The Mathematics Library is currently housing the Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Physics collections, in addition to its
own Mathematics and Statistics collections.

Personal Favorite: NCBI Entrez Databases: National Center for Biotechnology Information. Government Funded resource for molecular biology information.

NCBI has grown to provide other databases in addition to GenBank. NCBI provides Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, the Molecular Modeling Database (3D protein structures), dbSNP a database of single-nucleotide polymorphisms, the Unique Human Gene Sequence Collection, a Gene Map of the human genome, a Taxonomy Browser, and coordinates with the National Cancer Institute to provide the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project. The NCBI assigns a unique identifier (Taxonomy ID number) to each species of organism.

Recommended Resources:

  • Pubmed: Citations, abstracts and links to some full text articles. Indexed by the National Library of Medicine. Also links to other specialist databases.
  • SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System: The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) is a Digital Library portal for researchers in Astronomy and Physics, operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under a NASA grant. The ADS maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 8.5 million records: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and arXiv e-prints.
  • Open access to 618,741 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics


Stop By to Ask a Librarian

If you’re on campus for the summer, or arriving early for the fall, stop by a library to speak with a librarian. Librarians are available at libraries across campus to answer your questions about research, using databases, finding resources, managing your citations, and more.

Check library hours, and stop by! (If you’re off-campus, or pressed for time, there are quick and easy ways to Ask a Librarian.)



Librarian Highlight: John Oliver


Librarian: John Oliver

Title: Health Sciences Reference & Instruction Librarian

Subject specialties: Research and clinical support in the health sciences

Contact info:

Library: Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library

@ Columbia Libraries since: July 2006

Education Info: MA in Cognitive Studies in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University (anticipated graduation, 2010); MLS from Rutgers University; BA in English Literature from Trenton State College

About me: "Almost nothing makes me happier than making people’s research easier. Whether it’s by giving one-on-one consultations, designing and delivering new classes about information resources and services, or staffing my library’s drop-by reference desk."

What’s new at my library: The library space itself! The Health Sciences Library spent much of the last few years undergoing a major construction project. Now we have far fewer journals and books in paper format here, but in the same space there are some amazing new classrooms, reading rooms and collaboration spaces.

Personal Favorite: Scopus: For research topics that are interdisciplinary, this database is tough to beat! It contains tens of thousands of journals in far-ranging academic disciplines. Scopus may be just about the most easy-to-use academic database ever made. And, once you’ve identified a few good articles, finding related materials is a breeze: Scopus gives you “times cited” information so you can see which other researchers have cited a given item easily.

Recommended Resources:

  • Any citation manager, whether it’s EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley, Refworks, or something else. These tools help you collect and organize citations, then automatically format your paper’s references. This video can get your started with citation management.
  • PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE: Although these two tap into essentially the same pool of nearly 20 million articles, using them together—harnessing the best of each interface—can make for a powerful search! To learn these tricks, check out one of the Health Sciences Library’s drop-in PubMed/MEDLINE classes.
  • The Cochrane Library: By collecting, summarizing and synthesizing existing research and trials, the Cochrane Library serves as a powerful repository of clinical evidence. In other words, you’ll spend less time searching (and reading), and more time finding (and implementing).
  • Stat!Ref e-books: Search across dozens of landmark health sciences textbooks simultaneously.


Text Message the Libraries

There are two new ways to use the Libraries with your cellphone! (Standard rates apply.)

Text a Call Number to Your Cell Phone

CLIObeta now offers the ability to send a information about an item at the Libraries (author, title, location, call number) via text message to a cell phone.

Here’s how:

  1. Conduct your search in CLIObeta, and select the item you want
  2. Click on "Send to phone" from the item record
  3. Enter your cell-phone number.



  4. A text message will be sent to your cell phone.

Text a Question to Ask a Librarian

Text a Librarian from your cell phone at (215)TEXTCUL or (215)839-8285. Summer hours for the Ask a Librarian service are Monday through Friday from 1pm to 4pm. Look for extended hours this fall! More info.

 Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

Ask a Librarian

Taking summer courses at Columbia? Working on your dissertation, thesis, or summer research project? Ask a librarian for help identifying resources or advice on how to approach your research anytime!

inperson_RCC Visit us to receive in-person reference and research assistance. (Hours vary by library.)
call Call us at (212) 854-7309 for general library information, or contact an individual library.


IM us at askuscolumbia via AOL, Google, MSN, or Yahoo!, or chat with us on the Libraries website. Summer hours: 1pm – 4pm Monday through Friday.
consultation Make an appointment to meet with a librarian subject specialist for a consultation about your library research.
email Email your reference question and to request research assistance.
text Text us from your mobile phone at (215)TEXTCUL or (215)839-8285. More info.