Reference Department

The mission of the Reference Department is to anticipate and meet the information needs of the Alvin Sherman Library and all its users in a timely, accurate, and professional manner. We strive to effectively communicate the library’s services, resources, and policies to users and provide assistance and information to all readers that are both accurate and comprehensive. We offer a full range of reference services to both NSU-affiliated users and the public.

The Reference Department is located on the second floor of the Alvin Sherman Library. The reference desk is staffed seven days a week except for all Nova Southeastern University designated holidays.

Reference librarians provide the following services:

Reference Assistance

The Ask a Librarian reference service is available in person, by phone, and via email or chat to all library users. Reference librarians also prepare electronic help pages as well as subject guides, database instruction sheets and maps to help library users better utilize the library’s varied resources.


Librarians work with NSU faculty and public groups to provide instruction and orientation to the library and its services. Faculty from NSU as well as other institutions can consult with a reference librarian for assistance in developing class assignments and readings that best utilize the library’s resources. Professors, teachers and/or media specialists are encouraged to advise Reference librarians in advance of homework assignments so that we can be better prepared to help students with research and library projects.

Librarians also work one on one with individuals to provide specialized library instruction and library orientation. See Library instruction.

Materials Selection

Reference staff works with Collection Development and NSU faculty to select materials in a wide range of disciplines for the Alvin Sherman Library’s collection. NSU faculty members are encouraged to consult with a subject specialist if they wish to have materials acquired in their area of interest.

Special Projects

Reference librarians work on special projects such as exhibits, academic and public programming and workshops, and serve on a variety of committees and boards for the library, the university, and the community.Follow the links on the right to find out more, or feel free to contact us.

Reference Collection

The Reference Department houses the general reference collection for the Alvin Sherman Library. The collection is located on the second floor on the north and south sides of the reference desk. Currently numbering 13,700 print volumes and over 200 separate electronic resources, the reference collection covers a wide range of subjects. Print and CD-ROM reference materials may only be used in the Alvin Sherman Library. The reference collection consists of:

Reference Books

The print reference collection is arranged by the Library of Congress classification system. The collection includes general and specialized encyclopedias, English and foreign language dictionaries, concordances, directories, style manuals, biographical sources, numerous current and retrospective bibliographies, atlases, thesauri, almanacs, and indices. Note that many of the indices have been replaced by or are now maintained in the online databases found in the Electronic Resources section of our Website.


The Reference Department oversees the microforms collection which is located in the southwest corner (near the photocopy room) and northwest corner (near Lab A) of the second floor of the Alvin Sherman Library. The microforms collection includes the complete microfiche collection of ERIC documents, select newspapers and journals on microfilm or microfiche, and Roth’s Corefiche Literature Collection. In addition, there are several special collections on microfiche. There are also microfilm and microfiche readers/printers near the microforms collection.

Foundations & Grants Collection

The Reference Department also houses a Funding Information Network collection of the national Foundation Center. This collection, known as the Foundations and Grants Collection, includes the Foundation Directory Online database, a core collection of Foundation Center publications, and a variety of supplemental materials including information on scholarships. It also houses a small circulating collection donated by the Association of Fundraising Professionals to assist its members in becoming certified. As part of the University’s commitment to the Foundation Center, Reference staff provides training both in groups and one-on-one for this collection. Learn more about the Foundations & Grants Collection.

Electronic Online Resources

Many electronic resources, including databases and citation indices, are available on computers in the library as well as remotely. Forty public workstations are located next to the Reference Desk where reference librarians can assist patrons with these databases.