Ask a Librarian Privacy Information

Identifying Information

We do not require any personal or contact information to initiate a chat session. However, the librarian may ask for your email address or UNI so that they can follow up with you on more complex questions. The librarian may also ask whether or not you are affiliated with Columbia University in order to identify the most appropriate resources to answer your question, since many of our databases are licensed for use only by affiliates.

Answering Your Question

We often work in a collaborative fashion with our colleagues across the Columbia University Libraries, and your question may be best answered by a librarian other than the one that originally received your chat. Your question may be forwarded to a subject specialist librarian better able to provide a good answer, or you may be recommended to contact them yourself. 

Most evenings and weekends during the Fall and Spring semesters our chat services are staffed by interns enrolled in Master's of Library & Information Science programs. All interns and librarians participating in the Ask A Librarian chat service respect your privacy.

Stored Information

Chat transcripts are stored securely on our chat provider's servers and may also be downloaded to secure storage on the library's servers. We access these transcripts to evaluate the quality of our service as well as for statistical purposes. We do not provide transcripts to other entities.

Please send comments and questions to the Committee for Learning & Reference Support Strategies (

Use of Ask a Librarian services is limited to Columbia University faculty, students, staff, and alumni; and to those with questions specific to the Columbia University Libraries, the use of its collections, and its policies. If you’re not affiliated with Columbia University, please direct your query to your local public, state, or academic library.