Service guidelines: Information and research services at NSLA libraries

First published November 2010; reviewed April 2023

NSLA member libraries support you to find high-quality, trustworthy information in a variety of ways through our information and research services. When self-help tools and resources do not guide you to the information you need, support is provided through a range of channels, which may include:

  • face to face in reading rooms
  • telephone
  • web-forms and email
  • letters and faxes
  • chat and instant messaging services.

This policy and statement of standards is underpinned by our guiding principles of service. The policy is designed to help you understand what levels of support to expect from our staff.

What we are able to do initially

If you visit our library and ask us for assistance, we will advise you on a research strategy, support you to use finding tools effectively and suggest appropriate resources.

If you phone us or use our online chat or messaging service (where available) we are generally able to spend up to 10 minutes advising on the most appropriate information resources to guide you in your search.

If your enquiry cannot be answered in a short time frame, you may be referred to our research enquiry service.

You may also be referred to another information provider if that is most appropriate.

What we undertake as a research enquiry

Enquiries that cannot be responded to in a short timeframe and written or email enquiries may be referred to our research enquiry service.

Depending on the nature of the enquiry, this extended service provides:

  • guidance on the most appropriate information resources for you to continue with your own research
  • resources librarians have consulted to respond to your enquiry.

This service is provided for:

  • all residents
  • anyone wishing to access information relating to the jurisdiction of this library
  • anyone wishing to access information which is unique to our collections.

You may also be referred to another NSLA library, to your closest public, school or tertiary library, or to another information provider if this is the most appropriate place for you to find the information you need.

What we provide

  • Up to one hour of research on most enquiries. We may spend more time on enquiries which require researching materials unique to our library.
  • Where copies of documents are an outcome of the research, a charge may be levied. We will inform you if this is necessary as part of the response process.

Our response time

  • Up to 7–10 working days for most enquiries.
  • For enquiries which require researching materials unique to our library, we may negotiate a longer response time with you.

What we are not able to provide

  • Detailed technical assistance with personal hardware or software.
  • Lengthy or ongoing research e.g. extended family history or newspaper searches or searches through manuscript collections.
  • Extended research assistance to people interstate or overseas asking for information that is readily available in their own state, territory or country.
  • Answers to lists of questions for quizzes or competitions.
  • Detailed assistance with school assignments.
  • Searches for missing persons.
  • Legal and medical advice.

In these instances, we may give you guidance on search strategies and relevant resources to get you started in your research, or refer you to your local library or another information provider.

To ensure everyone is treated fairly/equally, we may reserve the right to limit the number of enquiries per person we can respond to per year.

Requests for copies and images

Many items are available in digital format via the library’s subscriptions to journal and ebook publisher databases and websites, and can be downloaded or printed for free.

Where an item is not already available, subject to copyright and other conditions, you may be able to order copies of collection items such as:

  • pictures, maps and manuscripts
  • books, newspapers and journal articles.

Some digitised materials may be subject to copyright or other access conditions such as cultural sensitivity.

Copying of items may incur a fee.

Privacy and data protection

NSLA libraries collect and manage data in accordance with the privacy and data protection legislation in their jurisdiction.


When responding to enquiries, we make reasonable and diligent efforts within our service guidelines to obtain accurate information from authoritative sources, including online databases. Information is provided in adherence with copyright legislation and, unless specifically stated in writing, there is no attempt at analysis.

Service guidelines: Information and research services at NSLA libraries