After an unsuccessful search of the stacks in Bobst Library, the frustrated NYU student did what most Gen Zers would: Pull out their phone and open the Ask a Librarian chat. Nickeisha Pencil, a reference and instruction associate who was working the virtual reference service that day, came to the rescue with a brief tutorial on navigating the seemingly endless aisles of books.
More knowledgeable but still empty-handed, the student started sending photos of the shelves to the chat, and Pencil responded from her remote location with directions—go left, turn right—until the book was in hand.
While unusual, the memorable hunt—which the student likened to being in an escape room, Pencil recalled—is just one of thousands of digital queries handled by NYU libraries every year. Anonymous, convenient, and accessible almost 24/7, NYU’s Ask A Librarian chat is a massive undertaking with a simple mission: Provide immediate answers and help patrons successfully access the library’s vast resources.
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