How does the ipl question process work?
Who answers my questions?
How long will it take to get an answer?
What kind of answer will I get?
Do you answer every question you get?
How many questions can I send and how often?
Are there kinds of questions you cannot answer?
Is information I submit on my question form private?
Where can I find out more about ipl?
At that time, one of our staff or volunteers will look at your question and send you an e-mail explaining what we will do.
If you have asked a question that is outside the scope of our service (see below), you will receive a message explaining why we could not take your question and offering some suggestions for continuing your search.
If you need a question in less than three days time, or if we are currently at our quota for the number of questions that we can reasonably answer according to our usual standards of quality and service, you may receive either a message explaining why we could not take your question and offering some suggestions for continuing your search, or you may receive a “quick” answer to your question. (See below.)
Otherwise, you will receive an e-mail letting you know we are working on your request.
Within the next week, you will receive an e-mail back from us answering your question. If you wish to ask follow-up questions, clarify your original request, thank the question answerer, etc. you can do so by replying to our last e-mail.
You will be provided with a reference code when you submit your question. If you reply to our email, be sure that reference code appears in the subject line as it did when you received it. Do not worry if “re:” or “fwd:” (uppercase or lowercase) gets addeded to the subject line when you reply.
ipl’s question service is staffed by trained professional librarian volunteers and graduate students in library science programs. Our volunteers and students come from libraries and schools around the United States, Canada, and even other parts of the world.
Once we have accepted your question, we do our best to answer it promptly. You will receive an answer from us within one week. If you indicate you need a response more quickly, we will try to answer it by that date.
ipl is not a good place to come if you need help right away. We are not a “real-time” service, and it takes us time to read, research, and respond to questions. If you need help right away, try your local library or some of the other resources listed on our site (/div/askus/hurry.html).
ipl answers include resources you can use to learn about your topic, and they include a description of how we found those resources. We focus on finding authoritative, free sources you can access online. ipl is not part of a physical library, so we don’t own books, magazines, databases, etc. That means we cannot send copies of materials such as articles or book chapters, but we may refer you to those materials and recommend you visit a local library to use them.
ipl sometimes receives hundreds of questions a week! We do our best to answer as many as we can, but there are times when we are overwhelmed and cannot accept any more questions and maintain our usual standards of quality and service.
During those periods, you may receive a “quick” answer to your question, or you may receive either a message explaining why we could not take your question and offering some suggestions for continuing your search.
A “quick” answer is an answer that we allow certain administrators and privileged staff members to send to our patron. The “quick” answer provided will not be up to our usual standards of quality and service, but it will be the best that we can provide at the moment.
You may get a message from us saying we cannot answer your question, offering some suggestions for continuing your search. We know it is frustrating if your question is not answered, but don’t forget to see what other resources are available to you. You might be able to use our website to find the sources you need (/). If you have one, you might also be able to get help in person, on the phone, or online from your local public, academic, or school library. (You can use the ipl’s Library Locator to get help if you do not know it /div/liblocator/.)
We apologize if we were not able to take your question. We hope that you will still come back and visit us again!
We may also notify you if your question is out of the scope of what our service can do. For more information, see below.
There are no limits on how many questions you can submit at one time, though we do prefer you submit them all on separate forms. There are also no rules about how often you can submit questions. Keep in mind, ipl may not be able to accept all your questions if we are already overwhelmed. For that reason, we recommend that you send in no more than one or two questions at a time. If you have further questions, submit them at a later date.
ipl cannot answer medical, legal, or tax advice questions because our librarian students and volunteers are not trained in those fields. For such questions, you can consult some of ipl’s Pathfinder Research Guides (/div/pf/) or browse the collections on our site (/). We also cannot answer personal opinion or advice questions, nor can we offer advice about specific computer or machinery problems. If we are unable to accept your question, you will be notified by e-mail (see above).