University Libraries

Reference Services

Reference services include, but are not limited to, answering directional and general information questions, providing instruction in the use of library resources, assisting with the use of reference material, creating and maintaining a collection of reference material.

  • In person reference services are provided at the reference desk all hours that the library is open.  As a general rule, service to patrons who come to the reference area takes priority over any other activity. 
  • Telephone questions are answered as soon as possible but do not take precedence over patrons waiting at the reference desk. 
  • E-mail questions usually have a 24-hour turnaround time.
  • Chat service is available at all times via our shared cooperative service with other libraries.
  • Individual consultations are offered by appointment to assist researchers with in-depth projects.

Reference materials do not circulate. Any questions or exceptions regarding this should be sent to

The primary objective of the Reference Unit is to provide information and services to support the academic and research needs of CWU students, faculty, and staff, as well as to the general public.  Reference staff assists patrons in the location, use, and understanding of information resources, teaches effective search techniques, and trains in the use of library resources.  Whenever possible reference staff will not only provide information and answers but will assist patrons to research independently.

Library Users

Our primary patrons are the university's students, faculty, and staff; and all are entitled to the same high level of service.  Services and facilities are available to the general public, though current members of the university may be given priority in the use of any service or reference tool.

Reference Services For Centers And Online Students

In additon to the main campus Brooks Library, CWU Center students may use local partner community college libraries and their staffs, although most of their library resources are chosen for programs offered by those colleges, and may not provide the books and materials specific to your CWU courses.

  • CWU Center students may call the Brooks Library Reference Desk during regular operating hours at 1-800-290-3327.
  • You may also Ask the Libraries which allows you to send an email request for reference assistance, or

CWU Des Moines users may contact the library staff at or 509-963-3849.

CWU Lynnwood users may contact the library staff at or 509-963-3750.

For additional help, reach out to us via the Ask the Libraries section in the upper right of this page.

If you are having difficulty connecting from off-campus, please refer to our Guide to Connecting from Off-Campus. You may also call our toll-free telephone number at 1-800-290-3327 for further assistance.

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