5 Ways to Make the Best of Your University Library
Libraries aren’t just about borrowing books or printing out your assignments! Check out how you can make the best out of your college or university library here.
Updated 08 May 2019
You may have heard your older siblings and friends brag about how they breezed through university without stepping foot in the library.
However, instead of serving as a bragging right, there’s a lot more to the library than borrowing books, printing out assignments or photocopying pages of textbooks.
Depending on your university, part of the fees you pay go to purchasing journals and articles. So, if all you’ve been doing is to use the library to kill time in between classes, or as a quiet place to take a nap or to leech off the wifi, think again!
Here are some tips on how you can take advantage of your library’s services.
#1. Utilise your library’s e-books and e-textbooks
Many university libraries now have a growing collection of e-books and e-textbooks, so you can forget about trawling ceaselessly through shelves of books for a piece of information that is crucial to your assignment or research paper.
With so many materials on different subjects and topics being digitised everyday, looking up electronic resources have never been easier. Available at any time, your university’s library electronic database provides you with an endless supply of articles, journals and research papers. All you need is your student ID! This can save you an immense amount of time when doing research.
Besides that, library resources are thoroughly sourced to ensure their quality, as opposed to sources obtained from the web where they may contain false or unverified information.
Check out websites such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), SAGE Open or the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) for free and downloadable open access to journals and articles.
#2. Use interlibrary loans
If your university has several campuses located across the nation, why not consider borrowing another campus’s textbooks? This way, you can avoid the frustration that comes when the book you need has been checked out by another student.
All you need to do is to perform a quick search on the library’s interlibrary search engine to check the availability of the book.
Depending on your institution, you could also approach a librarian and request for the book to be brought over to your campus at zero cost, saving you the hassle of shuttling between campuses!
Remember to keep track of the loan period or risk an overdue fee! Depending on how in-demand the material is, loan periods vary depending on your library’s policies.
#3. Rent AV equipment from your library
Besides traditional print resources such as books, encyclopedias, journals and magazines, many modern libraries keep a stock of audiovisual materials and equipment for rent to students who have to fulfil practical-based assignments including photography, videography, design or even history.
Depending on your institution’s library, you might be able to rent or check out cameras, boom microphones or even graphic tablets which you can use for your assignments and projects.
You could also borrow CDs and DVDs as supporting materials for your classes, especially if you enjoy using technology to help you ace your studies.
#4. Get more scholarly resources with document delivery services
Did you know that if your university library doesn’t carry the scholarly resources you need, you can request for it via document delivery services?
This service gives you access to academic materials outside of your university’s library, whether it’s libraries within Malaysia or overseas. These documents may include journal articles, conference papers or certain chapters of books.
For a fee usually borne by the requestor, academic staff or students can request these documents and use it for teaching, learning and research activities.
#5. Seek out a librarian
Librarians aren’t just guarding the university’s precious books, nor are they merely there to shush you when you and your coursemates get too noisy while studying in the library.
Librarians know the ins and outs of the library, and can be extremely helpful should you find yourself struggling to locate a particular book, or have difficulty navigating through the university's vast collection of scholarly journals.
They can point you in the right direction to where the resources are shelved for just about any subject there is under the sun! This is especially useful if you’re working on a subject that you’re unfamiliar with, enabling you to save ample time when you’re researching for materials for your thesis or assignment.
At times, the library may seem like a daunting place with its rows of shelves and Winterfell-cold air conditioning, but there’s no denying your college or university library holds a wealth of information. With all these resources available, don’t be afraid to explore your institution's library and take advantage of what you have at hand!