Reference & Research Help

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Reference librarians are available to assist library users in finding and evaluating information.

Reference & Research Help Desks

Help in using the Libraries and their resources, print and electronic, is offered at the Research Help Desk in the Robert L. Carothers Library & Learning Commons in Kingston, the URI Providence Campus Library, and the Pell Marine Science Library.

Answers to specific questions which can be found in standard reference sources are also provided. Due to staff issues, we cannot help with systematic reviews.

Live Chat / Online Reference

Reference librarians also provide the live chat service.

Phone Numbers

  • Robert L. Carothers Library & Learning Commons, Kingston • 401.874.2653 
  • Providence Campus Library, Providence • 401.277.5130 
  • Pell Marine Science Library, Narragansett • 401.874.6161 

Hearing-impaired users may reach any Reference Desk through the Rhode Island Telecommunications Relay Service by dialing 711 or 1-800-745-5555 (TTY).

Library Orientations and Instruction

Reference librarians offer library orientations and “bibliographic instruction” — sessions on methods of research, sources of information, and the evaluation of information. For more information, please see the Instruction Services page.

Subject and Assignment Guides

Reference librarians also create Subject and Assignment Guides to electronic databases and other Library materials.

Access to Other Libraries and Their Collections

If a library user needs a resource not owned by the URI Libraries, a reference librarian can assist the user in determining which libraries have the resource.

When appropriate, the reference librarian will give the library user a letter of introduction to the other library. (Many libraries require such a letter for access, for example Roger Williams Law Library.)

Alternately, a reference librarian will instruct the library user in requesting the material through the Library’s Interlibrary Loan service.

Faculty and professional staff on continuing appointment may apply for a Consortium of Rhode Island Academic and Research Libraries (CRIARL) borrowing card. Please see the CRIARL Borrowing Card Policy for details.

Graduate Reference Student Assistants

Each semester the Reference Unit in the University Library, Kingston, employs a number of graduate students from the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. Graduate Reference Student Assistants assist in providing reference services, in teaching library instruction and information literacy, and with other projects as assigned.

Students who are interested in employment as a Graduate Reference Student Assistant should contact Amanda Izenstark at or (401) 874-4582.


  • Robert L. Carothers Library & Learning Commons, Kingston
    • The Head of Reference in Kingston is Amanda Izenstark. She can be reached by e-mail at or by telephone at (401) 874-4582.
  • Providence Campus Library, Providence
    • For reference services at the Providence Campus, call (401) 277-5130.
  • Pell Marine Science Library, Narragansett
    • For reference services at the Pell Library, call (401) 874-6161.