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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 Info & 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.

Reference librarians also provide live chat assistance via our online chat service.

Reference & Research Help Phone Numbers

Robert L. Carothers Library & Learning Commons, Kingston • 401.874.2653 • Hours

Providence Campus Library, Providence • 401.277.5130 • Hours

Pell Library, Narragansett • 401.874.6161 • Hours

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.

Library User Guides

Reference librarians also create User 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.

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. 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 Student Assistant should contact Peter Larsen at or (401) 874-4637.

Contact information

The Head of Reference in Kingston is Peter Larsen. He can be reached by e-mail at or by telephone at (401) 874-4637. For more information about reference services at the Providence Campus, please contact Joanna Burkhardt at (401) 277-5133 or For reference services at the Pell Library, call (401) 874-6161.

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