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Ways You’re Not Using the Library to Your Full Advantage
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this is some writing to create a space Meet Chloe, one of our summer 2017 ICI Interns:I’m Chloe Alexander, a recent graduate of an ICI member campus, where I studied Communications and History. You’ll find me in a library, coffee shop, or thrift store. I speak primarily in English, but also in Spanish with a terrible accent, FRIENDS quotes, and Disney song lyrics. I strive to make my mark on the world by writing, traveling, reading, engaging in critical thinking, and enjoying the arts. Ask me about my adorable dog and I will talk to you for a minimum of an hour. 

 

Ways You're Not Using the Library to Your Full Advantage

September 7, 2017

The library is such an amazing resource while you’re in college. Make sure you are using it to its full extent!  

 

As a student, I worked at the campus library in college, so I was able to see firsthand how great of a resource it could be for students. Here are a few reasons why I think you should make it a habit to use your library and all that it offers.

 

First, recognize that the library is an academic building that is literally made for you to study in. The environment is designed for you to focus on your homework and is much more effective than your dorm room or a coffee shop could ever be. You have a lot of easy access to materials, like textbooks and databases and reliable Wi-Fi. Chances are your library is a pretty big building as well. There are so many different places to study, and you won’t ever run out of space. Often there will be individual cubicle-like desks for students to study alone. There are also long tables for you to spread out all of your articles and notes and textbooks if that works better for you. Larger study rooms can be a really good place for group meetings to take place. Libraries will usually reserve a floor for silence for students that find noise to be a distraction.

 

Second, the library is an awesome place full of academic resources. Obviously, there are books. This includes academic books to be used as resources, as well the Harry Potter series for when you need a break from homework. Libraries also have copies of newspapers, local and national, for you to stay up with current events. The reference materials can cover everything from census information to atlases to study bibles and tables of data collected from surveys. There will also be a number of journal subscriptions on a variety of subjects. These are usually on a monthly basis, so you can follow specific topics you’re interested in. As a student, you will have to write research papers. Databases full of research articles on almost every subject you can think of will be extremely helpful for these papers. The library may have computer labs for students to work in, 3D printers, or elementary supplies like pens, pencils, staplers, and tape as well. Whiteboards can be found for students to write out calculus problems or history timelines. Printers are available for you to print your assignment right before heading to class. 

Third, make sure you know what academic services your library offers. The number one service to take advantage of is your librarians! Too often, students don’t ask librarians for help and miss out on a lot of valuable information. Librarians have gone to school to learn how to help you research better. They have lots of tips and tricks and ways to use the perfect keywords to find a source for you. Make sure you use them as your starting point for any research questions.

 

 Most colleges have a writing lab that will help you improve your papers for class, and this is often located in the library. Find out if you can walk in at any point of the day and ask for assistance or if you have to schedule an appointment. The workers in the writing lab can walk through an outline with you or read through it and send back suggestions. Not sure which format is which? People at the writing lab can help you understand the differences between MLA, APA, and Chicago style.

 

Don’t need a writing lab? Your library probably has labs or tutors for specific subjects as well. Peer tutors are sometimes employed by the library to help with any particular class you could be struggling with. These are usually upperclassmen in the department that have taken the exact classes you’re struggling with, so they will definitely know how to help you with a particular concept or homework assignment because they may have struggled with it too.

 

For those with learning disabilities like dyslexia or who just need extra help, your college library may be where you can find a number of additional educational services. Maybe you need to take a test in a room that is quieter than your exam hall. Or you need more time than average to finish a quiz or test. The learning center in your library may be able to help with providing some of these services. Some students at my school struggled to focus on both listening to my professor and trying to copy down information, and so they had a student worker who could come to class with them to take notes. Above all else, they are there to help you learn in the best way for you.

 

 My final piece of advice is not to ignore the student workers you see behind the desk when you walk in. While they are the quickest way to find the restroom, I promise they can do so much more than just that. They check out materials for you, help you find a study room, and point out where the latest novel is that you’ve been dying to read. Most of these students have also spent some time re-shelving a lot of books so chances are they know exactly where the section of books related to your major is. When I worked at my library on campus, I was trained specifically on our reference materials and databases so that I could help students when the librarians went home for the day. Library workers are students just like you, so they may even have the same major as you! They could know exactly what paper you’re researching for and could be a tremendous help.

 

Becoming familiar with your library can help your studying become much more productive and efficient!  

 


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