College Library: To Use or Not to Use?
Despite how our generation has grown up on technology, the printed word has yet to completely disappear. Computers and smartphones are convenient and are becoming increasingly intertwined with every aspect of our lives, but there are just some things that they can’t replicate or replace. And the library is one of those things. There’s just something about the experience that the trillions of articles and e-books available online just can’t beat, especially for college students. And there are plenty of reasons why they have yet to become obsolete, and why you should be using the library as much as possible.
Reasons to Use Your College Library
• Quiet Place to Study
One of the pros of using your school’s library is, of course, having a great place to go if you need to sit down and tackle some work. A low-distraction, relaxed-but-not-comfortable-enough-to-take-a-nap study space can be super useful. Getting into a habit of going to the library and knocking out a few hours of homework or a big project will help you stay on top of your work throughout the semester. That way, you’ll be miles ahead when the midterms and finals library-goers flock to pull desperate, coffee-fueled all-nighters.
Even if you just don’t have access to a personal working laptop or printer, the library can end up being your saving grace. But there are also the hidden perks: student-exclusive resources like databases, services, or subscriptions that can be super helpful with your classwork. You can usually also find school-specific resources or information in your school’s library.
• Access to Resources
The library is a great tool to learn to utilize for certain majors and classes. Practicing intense research, gathering multiple sources of information, scanning large quantities of information for what’s critical, and the numerous other skills that you acquire by combing through the library to prepare an essay or research paper are hard to beat. Especially for students taking advanced courses and those who are interested in graduate school or academia, getting a good feel for how to use your library to your advantage early on will be a lifesaver.
Some libraries also offer lessons, workshops, and events where you can learn more about a wide variety of subjects. At certain schools, libraries hold rare and fascinating historical artifacts and archives. They provide the opportunity to explore topics or work hands-on and face-to-face with others in an environment that is often unlike your classes. All of these resources, in addition to the physical copies of books, encyclopedias, and journals that you have access to at a college library may only available for you as a college student. Public and private libraries can differ in content for many reasons, so it’s crucial to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available while you still can.
• Borrow Textbooks
Textbooks can be expensive. Some students wait to buy their class textbooks until classes start to determine how much they will actually need it. School libraries may have your textbook available to borrow when you need, but don’t be surprised if you can only borrow it for a few hours at a time. Many of these books can’t leave the library and you may only be able to borrow it for a few hours.
Reasons Why Your College Library May Not Be Your First Choice
• College Libraries are Outdated
That doesn’t mean that they’re all perfect, though. In our fast-paced, ever-evolving society, you always run the risk of tech or literature being outdated. Sometimes, if you aren't in a field-specific library or if you're in a very modernized industry, what little you may be able to find in library can be less than helpful.
For some of us, there’s a possibility that there is no literature on our future career or interests yet. You can reach out to your librarian for online journals or other resources, but don't expect to learn the skills being discussed at the latest industry conferences if your library hasn't updated their shelves since George Bush was in office. You can also look out for books that may help you learn transferable or related skills.
• A Not so Quiet Library
It also may not be ideal for group work. Most libraries mandate that visitors maintain a low volume or complete silence. If you need to brainstorm, discuss, or debate with a group, it may be best to take your project elsewhere, or book a private study room inside the library, so that you don’t disturb others.
On the other hand, it can also a bad place to study if you’re unfocused or unprepared or need a little background noise to feel comfortable. The intense silence in a library can make it easy to feel intimidated, uncomfortable, or get distracted. It’s important to remember that the negatives aren't always necessarily true. Especially if you go to a school with multiple libraries, take some time throughout the semester to explore and try out each one. Their individual atmospheres and content can widely vary, so one may not be the right fit while another feels just like home. Make sure to do your homework about on-campus libraries before and after choosing your university, and continue to explore them throughout your matriculation.
Libraries can provide you with educational opportunities, formal and informal, that you couldn’t have even imagined. Utilize all your resources and make learning just as exciting as the rest of your college experience.