Ask Us a Question

Visit Us

We're now open for in-person reference assistance. If you are able to make an appointment, please do - we can prepare for your visit. 

Book an Appointment

Receive 1-on-1 help with e-books, schedule a time to visit the Oakland History Center or AAMLO, and much more. Schedule it ahead of time

Call us at 510-238-3134

We can help with your reference questions over the phone and help guide your research. 

Reading Recommendations by e-mail

Looking for something great to read? Fill out this form and we'll suggest some books for you!

Answers by e-mail

E-answers is an easy way to get brief answers to factual questions via e-mail. We can also direct you to relevant Web sites and databases to help you with your research and give you other suggestions on where you can find the information you are seeking.

How it works

Send your question via e-mail to We can answer up to five questions per person per week.

In your message, please include:

  • Your question, described in detail
  • The reason you need the information (work, school, personal interest, etc.)
  • If you have already searched resources, please tell us what you tried
  • Your postal zip code
  • Your telephone number (optional)
  • Your grade in school if this is a schoolwork-related question

Every effort will be made to provide you with as prompt a response as possible. Please allow us up to two business days (Monday-Friday) to respond. Sometimes we may need to take longer to fully answer a question. When this happens, we will send you a progress report.

Please be sure to add any e-mail from "" to your Friendly E-mail/Approved Senders list to ensure that you receive a confirmation email and an answer to your submitted question.

Examples of questions we can answer

  • Who was the first mayor of Oakland?
  • How can I access your e-books?
  • Do you have the address and phone number for the local chapter of Toastmasters?
  • Does your library have free homework help?
  • How do you spell...?
  • Where can I find a short biography of Isadora Duncan?

Examples of How to Ask a Question

In order to get you the best answer, we need to know your exact question. See the examples below for tips on asking a question.

  • "When were the Peloponnesian Wars and how long did they last?" is better than "Do you have anything on the Peloponnesian Wars?"
  • "Can you tell me what California Sea Lions feed on?" is better than "Do you have any information on pinnipeds?"
  • "What products does Clorox manufacture?" is better than "What do you have on Clorox?"