For a young person entering the new and exciting world of college, there will be many new and exciting things to discover. Learning one’s way around campus, learning about all of the facilities there are on campus, what there is to do, see and how to have fun are all on a student’s priority list. Unfortunately, one of the things that often gets overlooked or ignored altogether is what may really be the most valuable resource there is on that college campus: the college library.
A library is more than just a building that houses books, or a place where all of the geeky students go to study. It is the place you will turn to when you have to do a research paper, it is a place that can teach you how to do that research, how to find the resources, how to evaluate those resources, and infinitely more.
There are many ways by which to benefit from the resources of a college or university library. Here is a look at some of the most important ways by which to reap those benefits.
Learning how to use the library
One of the first things you will need to do is to learn how to use the library. Many students who don’t regularly use libraries may not know that you can save yourself a lot of work by doing your card catalog searches online, right in the comfort of your own dorm room or apartment. An online search will let you know whether a book is available or not, and you may even be able to reserve a book that is not available so that once it’s returned, you will be notified that it’s ready for you to pick up.
Using references that are “Reserved”
There are many times for which a professor will find some important reading material, or may want to put on reserve. When material is put on reserve, it will be housed in a special area of the library and you will have to go to the library to check it out. With sources for which there are multiple copies, you may be able to take the reference out for as little as a few hours, or overnight. If you are using a source that can only be checked out for a few hours, you can always return and renew it.
In some cases, it may simply be necessary to go to the library, check the material out and go to one of the library copy machines to copy the required reading. Some colleges make it possible to purchase cards that can be used in copy machines. They will have a certain amount of money on them, and whenever you need more money for copying, you can add money to the card by putting it back in a machine, accessing the option to add money and inserting the money you want to add.
Using Reference Databases
In the reference area, there will undoubtedly be a bunch of special databases that contain references for certain academic organizations or fields. These references are especially important for research papers because they will contain some of the most significant scholarly research in the field.
Learn to use different resource centers
Resource centers are part of the college or university library system. They may contain other resources that may not be best suited for the “traditional” library. For example, if you are learning a foreign language, the resource center may contain a listening lab where you can go to listen to material that is specifically designed to be used with your textbook and work book. It is also a good way to be able to test yourself and learn vocabulary words and other things through repetition. The language areas are designed to be somewhat soundproof so that students don’t disturb one another as they are taking advantage of these resources.
Various academic areas may also have facilities that are geared towards academic requirements of different departments. If you are a music major, for example, one of the requirements of your Music History courses will be that you listen to a lot of music and the things you have to listen to will often be included in your syllabus or listed on a separate list that accompanies the syllabus. The listening area in a music library is the only place you can go to do this. The things you will have to listen to will already be available in the reserve area, so all you have to do is go to the desk to request them and get a set of headphones.
Take a tour of the library
As part of the orientation program, many colleges and universities will offer tours of the library facilities. If at all possible, take advantage of the opportunity to go on this tour. Although the tour proper may be conducted by student tour guides, there will undoubtedly be library staff on hand to explain the specifics of what the libraries and other resource/research facilities have to offer.
A library is a place where a wealth of information can be found. Many students waste precious time because they claim they can’t find sufficient research sources for research papers or other projects. The problem is not that the information is available; it is that the students don’t know how to use the facilities that are available and that would make finding the appropriate information relatively effortless. Once you rid yourself of all of the negative preconceptions about the library, you may discover that it is arguably the most useful and important place on campus.