Our Special Library Partners are Open for Referrals!

Updated on 3/2/2017

You are one of the 200-300 librarians who actively staff Maryland AskUsNow!'s chat service. You’re part of a system that is made up of 40 partner libraries. Through your session(s), you help to cover AskUsNow! for over 200 hours a week, all from computers like yours, and all over Maryland.

As a provider of the service, you know that our online patrons log into this chat service looking for help finding a wide variety of information. Some questions are perfect for our special libraries, from the simple (how to return a cassette player to the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) to the complex (how to find a legal precedent for presenting an argument to allow residents to raise chickens in a Maryland suburb).

Our special library partners are open for business! Some can be directly contacted by the patron (you can see their webmail forms on their sites) and all welcome your referrals. When you have a question that has a specific need, you can turn to the rich resources of our special partner libraries. And through this initiative we're hoping to give them further visibility to your customers and your staff who do not use AskUsNow.

In chat, you can refer customers directly to the library AND mark the session "Follow-up by Patron's Library" and those folks doing follow-up will make sure that session gets to the right special library or subject specialist.

But if you're library is interested in adding a link to their website and/or email form, you can get all the information in our list. Below, however, we've put together a list of the six main libraries and information about their specialties, including some sample questions that pertain to that subject specialty. Most of the questions are real!

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Email:  library.dnr@maryland.gov

Phone:  410-370-5093

…serves the needs of DNR staff, researchers, and the public. The DNR Library can assist with questions about state environmental protection programs, history of environmental protection in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, and ecology of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.

Sample questions:

  • What is the State of Maryland doing to clean up the Chesapeake Bay in recent years? Has this program been effective?
  • I want to plan some river kayaking trips and would like to know: Is there a list of Maryland’s rivers and their water qualities/pollution rates?

Maryland Nonprofits 

https://marylandnonprofits.org/

410-727-6367

Maryland State Law Library

http://www.mdcourts.gov/lawlib/

…provides legal information to the Maryland judiciary and other branches of State government, bar members and the public. Information specialists can assist with suggestions for beginning and advanced legal research, assistance in the location and use of sources and finding aids, and recommendations for alternative sources for legal help outside of the Library.

Sample legal questions:

  • I walked into a shop today where I noticed a sign reading "We have the right to search any bags". Where can I find out if that is true?
  • Are common law marriages recognized in the state of Maryland if a couple has been living together for 26 years and had three children together?
  • I believe my neighbor’s new fence is really on my property. He refuses to talk to me about it. How can I deal with this? 

Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH)

http://lbph.maryland.gov/

The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) provides free, comprehensive library services to Maryland residents who cannot read or use regular print materials as a result of a temporary or permanent visual or physical disability. Books and magazines are available in audio, Braille, and large print formats, and are circulated through the mail. Patrons can also download reading material instantly through BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download).

Sample questions:

  • What resources are available for legally blind people interested in photography? Examples of successful blind photographers? Exhibits? How-to books? Supportive organizations? Internet discussion groups? I'm looking for anything that might help someone with a vision impairment get into photography as a hobby. Thanks!
  • Do you know of ANY magazines that offer large print for my father? He gets Reader's Digest now and we have looked everywhere for something else. Hello. What resources are available for people who have vision impairments and are interested in tandem cycling? Are there any books or Web sites that provide information about choosing a bike and a sighted partner? What organizations around the country sponsor events? Thank you.
  • Do you have information on electronic desktop CCTV systems that are computer compatible and have audio features for hearing impaired? Which models are computer compatible and which computers?
  • How do I get free audio books and equipment for my brother? He has PSP and is unable to read or operate small/complicated buttons on a player.
  • I understand there is a government program that sends books/magazines through the mail.

National Agricultural Library

http://www.nal.usda.gov/

Professional reference (research and specialized information center) staff at the National Agricultural Library can help you find the agriculture related information you need. Staff members answer questions using authoritative, pertinent resources and produce online guides to myriad food, farming, environment and agriculture topics. Let them help you.

Sample questions:

  • Is there a place where I can find the long-run projections for the farm sector for the next 10-15 years, especially for wheat and corn?
  • I’m doing research regarding the environmental impact of organic farming, and need information about Maryland’s confined animal numbers (feedlot beef, dairy cows, swine, poultry, and other cattle) and associated manure nutrients, as compared to national levels. Do you know a place where I can find this?
  • What are the overall economic costs of food-borne illnesses? Specifically I am interested in knowing about the economic costs of the 2007 Salmonella scare (peanut butter).

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Central Library

http://www.lib.noaa.gov/askref.html or http://www.lib.noaa.gov/

..."provide information and research support to NOAA staff and the public. The library also networks with over 30 NOAA libraries across the nation. Disciplines covered include weather and atmospheric sciences, oceanography, ocean engineering, nautical charting, marine ecology, marine resources, ecosystems, coastal studies, aeronomy, geodesy, cartography, mathematics and statistics."

Sample questions:

  • Do you have any reports on Polaris the North Star?
  • I'm looking for photos please of a celiometer but nothing is coming up in the NOAA Photo Library so can you please help?
  • I'm trying to locate coordinates that are referenced in the "U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Station:  'Old Town.'"

National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)

http://www.naric.com/

…focuses on disability and rehabilitation research. Information specialists provide quick information and referral to agencies, organizations, and publishers providing services and support for people with disabilities. Their collection of more than 60,000 disability and rehabilitation research documents is open to the public and indexed on their website.

Sample questions:

  • Do you know of resources for someone who has a disability and is looking for work?
  • I have a small business of 25 employees and would like to purchase ergonomically correct office equipment. To help with the costs, is there a grant or Federal aid I can apply for?
  • Do you know of any support for military personnel with disabilities?

Pathfinders for Autism

http://www.pathfindersforautism.org/

...is dedicated to providing accurate, timely, and accessible information to individuals with autism, their families and professionals. The Pathfinders for Autism Resource Center offers caring, knowledgeable staff to respond to calls and email inquiries. Our website provides an on-line, searchable database with information on services and programs throughout Maryland as well as articles, recommended reading, professional training, a calendar of autism-related events and more. In addition, we have a Walk-in Center, offering hands-on tools and resource exchange. The Resource Center is open from 9:30 am- 3 pm, Monday-Friday.  Please call us at or 443.330.5341 or 443-330-5370 to ensure someone will be available to meet with you before coming in.

Sample question:

  • I live in Carroll County and I’m looking for support groups for parents of children on the autism spectrum.  Do you have any providers?

Pratt / SLRC

The Enoch Pratt Free Library/State Library Resource Center can be a great resource for information and referrals! Materials for patrons can be requested through interlibrary loan from the branch.  They have subject specialists in the following areas: