News for instructors: Two new ways to connect with the Library in Canvas for Fall

Research help now available in Canvas courses

Faculty, you may have noticed a new link appear in your Canvas course for Fall: Research Help is now available through the main navigation bar for each of your courses.

This new tool will connect SFU researchers to our online research help service, AskAway.

Questions and answers for faculty

What is the Research Help tool?

Research Help is a new tool in Canvas that connects SFU students and instructors to AskAway, an online research help service for researchers across BC and the Yukon. This service is already available through the Library's website, as part of our Ask a Librarian services -- but now students can access it by using the Research Help button in Canvas too.

AskAway is staffed by research help experts from BC post-secondary institutions, including SFU Library staff.

This service is available from 9am - 9pm Mondays - Thursdays, 9am - 5pm Fridays, 11-5pm Saturdays, and 10-9pm Sundays. It will be open from September 8th to December 11th for the Fall term. (Hours may vary. Check AskAway for the latest.)

What is the Research Help in Canvas Pilot?

Because SFU instruction is overwhelmingly remote for Fall 2020, we are making the AskAway service more visible to students within Canvas. Because not all SFU users are familiar with AskAway, we are calling it “Research Help” within Canvas.

This pilot provides access to AskAway through a button in your Canvas course. Students can click on the button and get in touch with a research help expert via an easy-to-use live chat interface, without leaving your Canvas course.

The Research Help button is available at the bottom of the list in the course navigation links.

The pilot will be in place for the Fall semester. After we evaluate the sustainability and uptake of the service, we will decide whether to continue in the Spring term.

How can I use Research Help in my course?

The Research Help tool is automatically turned on within the Canvas shell for your course for Fall 2020.

When referring students to the resource please highlight that this is a Library service that supports students with their research. Students can use it for help with a range of questions, from locating Library resources, to searching databases, to getting help with citation formats.

Questions about Canvas or about your course content should be directed accordingly.

How can I remove the Research Help tool from my Canvas course?

To remove the tool from your course, please refer to the Canvas instructions on “How do I manage Course Navigation links?”

I’d like some more information about Research Help and AskAway.  Who do I talk to?

If you have questions about the AskAway service, please contact Ania Dymarz, Head, Learning and Instructional Services (  

Add a librarian to your course

In addition to providing access to Research Help for students, you can also add a librarian to your course. While this option has always been available to you, Canvas now has a specific librarian role.

If you are considering adding a librarian to your Canvas course, please reach out to your liaison librarian

About the new librarian role in Canvas

Overview: Why add a librarian?

In past years there had been no unique role in Canvas for librarians; librarians were sometimes added by instructors to support courses in Canvas but were added through different roles, such as students, TAs, designers or instructors.

Adding a librarian to Canvas with the librarian role designation will:

  • Clarify to students the role of a librarian involved in the course
  • Allow librarians to add research help content to the course, or update existing library related content (eg. the library plagiarism tutorial)
  • Give students a quick and easy way to contact the subject specialist librarian working with you. 

Process: How to add a librarian role 

As in past terms, instructors can add librarians to Canvas courses at their discretion. This process has not changed.

If you would like to collaborate with a librarian, contact your liaison librarian


The librarian role is almost identical to the TA role, except that:

  • librarians cannot add or remove students from courses
  • librarians can modify learning outcomes.

If you have questions about permissions for the librarian role, please contact Ania Dymarz, Head, Learning and Instructional Services (  


Fall 2020
Contact for further information
Ania Dymarz, Head, Learning and Instructional Services: