Staying Strong: An Update about Reference Services

Monday, May 11, 2020

Are you working from home or finally digging into some research projects of your own? The coronavirus pandemic caused North Carolina to face drastic changes in the past few months, one being your local library experiencing closures. So you might be wondering how you can get your reference questions answered in the meantime. 

Though the Government & Heritage Library (GHL) has closed to the public until further notice, our dedicated reference staff continue to work remotely from their homes and are available to assist you with any reference questions you may have through chat, e-mail, and phone. Despite changes in our ability to access particular resources on-site, our commitment to interacting with and assisting the public has not altered. We are here to serve the public and are here for you during these trying times!  

 Drawing of a Genealogical Tree

Get in Touch with the Reference Team 

Do you wonder how to get in touch with the GHL’s Reference Team and what is the best method? 

Have a quick question? Contact the library via our “Chat with a Librarian” service Monday-Friday from 8 AM-5 PM here: Staff from throughout the library, including reference staff, will be on hand to answer your questions. If a question requires more research than is available through chat, staff will work with you to find ways to follow-up, such as email or phone calls. 

Have a more in-depth question? Either contact the library via e-mail at or call our reference desk at (919) 814-6790 and leave us a voicemail - whichever method works best for you! GHL staff are able to check the messages on our reference desk phone and our reference e-mail from their remote locations daily Monday-Friday. After your message is sent via e-mail or phone, a reference librarian will be in touch with you as soon as possible to provide you with assistance on your question. 

Our Current Limitations 

Please note that our library staff, though enthusiastic to help you, unfortunately, is limited in a few ways. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you.  

One setback we are experiencing is that due to the library’s closure and staff working remotely, we cannot access our library’s physical resources (print documents, books, microfilm, etc.) at this time. Therefore, we are unable to complete certain reference requests for the time being, such as performing a look-up for a particular name in a book’s index or searching for a newspaper article or obituary in a reel of microfilm, for example.  

If you have a question regarding a physical resource in our library, we encourage you to see if you can find the information you need online, through the North Carolina Digital Collections, or via our Online Resources page. If you continue to struggle to access information concerning a physical resource that our library owns and are willing to wait, please contact our reference staff and we can put your request on hold until our staff return to the library and are able to access the resource. 

Another resource temporarily suspended is Interlibrary Loan (ILL). This means that we are currently unable to process new ILL requests until our staff is able to return to the library. If you are willing to wait until our ILL services resume in the future, you can fill out our ILL request form at the following link and it will be processed at a later date:  If you currently have an ILL book out, please hold onto it and do not return the item until the GHL is reopened. Staff will continue to monitor your ILL loans and extend them as necessary. 

Lastly, please note that due to a high volume of online requests, there may be a slight delay in our staff’s response to your reference question. Please be patient as you work with us and we promise that we will answer your question to the best of our ability as soon as we are able to do so. Thank you! 

It Never Hurts to Ask! 

Even with our current limitations, a world of information is out there and our Reference Team will do our best to serve you remotely. No matter what your question, remember that the GHL staff are always here for you. Connect with us today and happy researching! 

Taylor Thompson, Reference Service Assistant