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Ask Chat with a Librarian

About | Hours of operation | User feedback | Privacy policy

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Ask a Librarian is an English/French collaborative online reference service, connecting students, faculty members, and researchers from participating Ontario university libraries with real-time library and research assistance. This consortial service is offered by Scholars Portal, the digital service arm of the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL).

Start a chat session by clicking on the icon above. 

We can help you with:

  • Finding resources about a topic
  • Locating a specific book or article
  • Understanding and using library services, resources, and tools effectively
  • Getting information about library services during COVID-19 times

Winter 2023: January 9 – April 6

  • Monday – Thursday: 10 am – 10 pm
  • Friday: 10 am - 5 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday: 12 pm - 6 pm
  • SERVICE CLOSURES: February 20, Family Day

What library users are saying about Ask Chat with a Librarian

"I should have used this more in undergrad. I don't know if this existed, but at least consult with the librarians more! I wasn't really aware of library resources when I was in undergrad. I'm pursuing my Masters now and I'm grateful that this service was available!"-(Graduate student, February 2022)

"Thanks for the assistance! Instant communication-just the same as if I walked up to the circulation desk at the library in person."-(Graduate student, December 2021)

"Super helpfugreen background with a handwritten 'thank you' - source = free clip art from getdrawings.coml, very quick, excellent customer service. Thank you so much! :)"-(Undergraduate student, November 2021)

"As always, the people who run this service are top notch. Always provide me the information I need, and are kind, responsive and incredibly helpful. I wish more people were aware of this; it's easily the best way to get help especially given COVID (where we should minimize contact with each other still)!"-(Undergraduate student, September 2021)

"The librarian was extremely helpful and found the paper I needed in a few minutes – I had spent the entire week searching for it online! Many thanks!"-(Graduate student, September 2021)

"[Chat operator] was excellent. He was very helpful and he took the time to understand my needs and concerns. I would highly recommend this service to anyone looking for assistance and am very pleased with the help I received."-(Alumnus, September 2021)

"The librarian I dealt with was extraordinarily helpful with a complicated request. Exemplary patience too."-(Professor emerita, September 2021)

"The individual who helped me was fantastic! It is my first time navigating such a large library system, she helped me immensely."-(Undergraduate student, September 2021)

"The service was friendly and efficient and I got more help than I expected. Very good service!"-(June 2021)

"Online chat was my only option to get an answer to my query and everything worked out perfectly. This service is an absolute must, pandemic or not! Thanks so much."   (April 2020)

"I recently completed the "Ask a Librarian" online chat sessions with two librarians [...]. I would just like to pass on the message that both were phenomenal in helping me and answering my questions. They explained everything and gave me lots of details, tips and information [...] Also, I want to convey my support and appreciation for the Chat service. It is absolutely essential and has helped me numerous times. Thank you."
-3rd year social work graduate student


Sample chat

screenshot of an active Ask a Librarian chat window


Privacy policy

Scholars Portal is a service of the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL). OCUL is a consortium of 21 academic libraries in the province of Ontario and acts under the authority of the Council of Ontario Universities.

In order to begin a chat session, Ask a Librarian users must indicate their university affiliation and level of study. This information is used to ensure that Ask a Librarian staff are providing the best possible research assistance. While staff may request your email address during a chat session in order to follow-up on a research request, you are never obligated to provide it.

OCUL, the University of Toronto, and all Ask a Librarian staff respect your privacy. User data can only be accessed by Scholars Portal staff and by designated administrators from participating libraries. Information provided while using the service is collected primarily for statistical reporting to the OCUL board of directors, funding agencies, and your local institution. Data collected through the service may also be used for research purposes, but privacy and anonymity of users will be ensured. Personal information that you provide in order to use Scholars Portal services will be protected in accordance with FIPPA, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We will not disclose any personal data we collect from you to any party in a manner that would identify you, except to fulfill your service request or where required by law.