Reference Policies

Librarians (i.e. Providers) should use any resources available to them.  These include, but not limited to:  databases available through Sailor; member library proprietary databases (in keeping with the library’s license agreements); free materials available via the web, and print resources.


Remote Authentication of Database and Online Resource Subscriptions

  • Sailor databases: accessible to all.  As long as the customer is accessing the internet in a Maryland location, no library card number is needed to access the Sailor databases.
  • If the customer has no card, the librarian may use the generic (dummy) library card number provided in the customer’s library’s policy page (if available)
  • If the Provider cannot access the customer's  databases, the Provider may refer the customer to the library that owns the database subscription.
  • Best Practices for Database Access (No database access?  Please go to page 4 about "Assisting Patrons When Database Access is not available"):


Website Evaluation

Select those websites that are authoritative, non-commercial, and “objective.” When information is available only on a website that is questionable to the Provider, the Provider should inform the customer of this. (See for more on specifics regarding website evaluation.)


Cite Sources

Websites used in answering the customer's questions should be accompanied by a brief explanation of what the page is and why it is relevant to the customer’s information need.  When a website is not directly sent to a customer, Providers must cite the source used to provide the information.


Explicit Materials

AskUsNow! Providers will not intentionally provide pornography to customers of any age. Providers should inform the customer that questions seeking online pornography are beyond the scope of the service.

AskUsNow! Providers should not knowingly bypass a filter in recognition of the wishes of the parent/guardian, school, or other institution which installed the filter. A website which contains such language or content can be provided but explicit content not cut and pasted.



For resources, see Recommended Chat Resources.