Frequently Asked Questions - Math Library

I don't really think of libraries and math as going together.

What can the Math Library offer to me?

We can offer the same things you see in other campus Libraries: we can help you find resources, check materials in and out, and provide study and group spaces. However, we also offer drop-in homework help for lower-division, especially 100-level, math classes, primarily aimed at helping you work through specific trouble areas rather than providing tutoring for an entire term, and if we can't help you we will refer you to another campus service.

Drop-in homework help? What if I need a lot of help with my homework?

We'll do what we can, but if it seems like your needs would be better met by referring you to more formal tutoring or other instruction, we'll tell you that. We don't think it's good for you or for us to pretend we can offer more than drop-in help, nor to provide so much help that you're not learning the material.

How does this help work, exactly? Do I have to get in line or take a number or what?

You sign in when you come in, if you think you'll want help - or, if you realize while you're working you need help, you can do so then. Then you take a dowel out of the box (it's a cylinder with red and green ends) and take it with you while you work. When you need help, you turn it red-side up, and we'll come see you as soon as we can. This is an evolving system, but we think it's working pretty well.

What about upper-level classes?

I need help in my 300-level class.

Most of the students working in the Math Library are math majors, so it's still possible they will be able to work through something with you; this largely depends on their own areas of concentration and where they are in their programs. However, we will be working on building up good resources as we go, so that if one of us finds that a specific book is very helpful to someone taking a particular class, we can know to mention it to others.

In addition, many of the undergraduate TAs who lead discussion sections in lower-level math classes (and who are themselves math majors) hold office hours in the Math Library. This means there's a good chance someone who is in or has taken your class may be in the library and have useful thoughts.

What if you just don't know the answer to my question?

We're happy to look at the textbook with you and see what we can come up with. It's likely that you know part of the information yourself, and we're willing to try to talk it through until we come to the solution. No one of us immediately knows the answer to all possible questions, of course, but that doesn't mean there is no answer. If we can't get there with you, then again, well refer you to other resources such as your instructor's office hours or formal tutoring options.

You said up above that you might refer me to other resources. Like what?

The Tutoring and Academic Engagement Center (TAEC) on the 4th floor of Knight Library has both drop-in help and course-specific tutoring groups. Your TA, GTF, or instructor's office hours may also be a good option, or we may be able to help you find another book in the library's collection that describes the same topic a different way.

How do I apply to work in the math library?

We accept online applications through Handshake when we are looking to hire. If you have questions, please contact Kristin (

I have a problem not addressed here, or a suggestion.

We would like to hear it. You can contact Kristin or email the general math library email (, or simply tell the student employee, who will pass your comments along.