Oblivion Question: How do you use a staff?

I’ve hacked my way through the game as a fighter. Now I want to start over as a mage. I’ve got the basics down, but I have a question - how do you use a staff? (I’ve picked up a few, but have treated them solely as sources of funds.)
Do you swing them at a critter, and they get hit with whatever effect they have, or do you use them to cast a spell?


You can certainly whack someone with it, but they make poor weapons. They cast like spells.

Best way to use a staff is to find out what each member is good at, and get them to cross-train each other. Of course, none of this matters if you don’t have at least a charisma of 18, and a +5 Cloak of Mad Delegating Skillsz.