College libraries have a lot to offer students, yet most only head into the library when they have to research a paper or want a quiet place to study come test time. These students are missing out on some of the best educational resources their school has to offer. Here are a few reasons why students should get to know their on campus libraries a little better.
First, start with the basics: books. The books you find in the general card catalog may not be all that your library has to offer. In fact, many larger universities have an extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts that you may be able to use for your research or see with permission from the librarians. As a student, you have a unique opportunity to access these materials, many of which you might not come across again. Also, keep in mind that just because your library doesn’t have a book doesn’t mean they can’t get it. Check with librarians to see if the materials you need can be borrowed from another university library.
Libraries are also a great place to check out all kinds of media besides books. Want to see an art house film from France? Your library just might carry it. Some films you’ll be able to check out and watch at home and others you’ll be able to watch in special viewing rooms within the library itself. It might take a little more effort, but you’ll save yourself a hefty hunk of change on movie rentals by simply taking advantage of the movies you know your library already offers.
Students also enjoy free access to a wide variety of databases and software that can be especially useful in research. These resources can cost a pretty penny and having them at hand for use whenever and however you’d like is something many students don’t consider. So instead of Googling information on a topic you need to research, consider using these more specialized and academic tools.
Libraries can also be a place to take courses on things you’re interested in as an academic. More and more libraries are offering classes and workshops on everything from the basics of library research to showing students how to create better presentations and use specialized software. Better yet, you often won’t have to pay a dime to get this useful instruction.
Finally, the greatest untapped resource at university libraries is the librarians themselves. Often they can help you find materials and do better research than you’d be able to do on your own. Why? Because they know the resources the university has and have been working with them for years. So the next time you’re looking to get more out of your library, start with talking to the librarians for more information.