Library books on the shelves
Top 10 Ways the Library Can Make Your Life (Slightly) Less Stressful

10. Databases

Your professor assigns a research paper that requires ten - TEN! - scholarly articles. Where do you even begin? In a database! Library services subscribes to more than 100 databases and each one provides something unique.

Most are full of scholarly articles in various subject areas, but others have e-books, general background information, documentary films, and medical tools. We even have a database that provides 3D imaging of body parts to help with your anatomy classes! Our resources don’t just include the search box on the library’s website so always be sure to browse through our databases to make sure you’re looking exactly where you should.

9. Course Reserves

Textbooks and all the other items on your syllabus’ required and recommended reading list are expensive. We get it, and so do many of your teachers. That’s why a lot of them place course-specific books and videos on reserve at the library’s Information Desk. You can borrow the material for a couple of hours in the building to get your work done and then return it for your classmates to use. Ask your professors if any of their materials are available through Course Reserve, and if not, have them visit the library’s website to do so!

8. Citation Help

Citing where you got your information in your research papers is important - it’s how you let your readers know that you’re not making this stuff up, and how you get proper credit to the researchers who did the original work. But properly citing your information in APA, MLA, AMA, or another format is not fun or easy. Sometimes, it feels like it takes longer than writing the paper itself! The library has a lot of ways to help you with this. Our website’s search box and most of our databases come with citation tools that will format books and articles into various styles for your references list. We also have guides with links to a lot of different online resources to help with citation, as well as a step-by-step guide to using Mendeley, a useful (and free!) online citation manager.

7. Video Tutorials

6. Research Companion Videos

In addition to the tutorials created by our awesome staff, we also have access to a resource called Research Companion. Research Companion is a series of short, easy-to-understand videos that walk you through the entire research process - from deciding on a topic and finding information to evaluating information and putting it all together. These videos are great for helping you when you’re stuck or even if you just need a quick refresher on what, exactly, the difference between a primary and secondary source is.

5. Electronic Resources

The world has changed a lot since the days of trudging to the library to check out books and look at print journals. That’s why most of our resources are electronic, available to students wherever you have an internet connection. You can read ebooks, download digital articles, and stream videos from your room, your house, while you’re grabbing a bite to eat at Cheney or the Campus Union, or even while your studying abroad. Ebooks are especially helpful because almost all of them are limitless - you don’t have to worry if someone else has “checked out” the book you need because you can both read it online at the same time!

4. Virtual Help

It’s not just our book and articles that you can get electronically - you can also get our staff! In addition to having a staffed Information Desk until midnight most nights during the semester, you can also talk to library staff members over the phone (413-748-3315); via text (413-314-3678); through chat; and by submitting a question to be answered by email. No matter what’s most convenient or preferable, we’ve got you covered!

3. Research Guides

With all these resources available through the library (not to mention the entire internet), it can be easy to get lost in a sea of information. Which of our 100 databases will be actually useful? What websites out there can be trusted? That’s why our librarians created a series of research guides to help steer you in the right direction. These guides share the most useful databases, search topics, videos, websites, and ways of getting help for people studying a particular subject or discipline. We have guides for every major program of study and a few general guides for other helpful skills and resources. They’re a great place to start if you don’t know WHERE to start!

2. Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

As much as we want to, our library doesn’t have every book, article, or video ever created. Chances are, at some point, you’re going to need something we don’t have in our building or through our databases. Thankfully, what we DO have is interlibrary loan, a system where we will find whatever item you’re looking for from another library and get it for you. Simply log in with your PrideNET username and password, give us whatever information you have about the item you need, and we’ll get it for you. If you’re looking for an article, you’ll usually have a PDF available for you within a few days. Books take a bit longer because of shipping times, but still usually arrive within a week or two. So don’t get frustrated if it looks like we don’t have what you need, and NEVER pay a website to view an article - just ask!

1. LIBRARIANS

Librarians are EXPERTS AT RESEARCH! So if you’re struggling with any part of the research process - from coming up with a topic and developing keywords for searching to finding and evaluating information - we’re here for you! Our librarians are available for one-on-one sessions, emails, and phone calls, and many also have weekly office hours in various academic departments. We even have a liaison program, where every major has a specific librarian who works with the students and faculty and is an expert in the type of research and resources you need. Find your librarian here and don’t hesitate to ask them for help - that’s why we’re here!

About the author

Kerri Vautour

Kerri Vautour is an outreach librarian who spends her time telling students and faculty members why they should use the library (tl;dr it's amazing). She is also the world's expert on Stephen King and corgis, and may hold the campus record for most coffee consumed at the Dunkin' Donuts.