By Allison Fox, access services librarian
I’ve spent most of my life in libraries. My mom was the librarian at my elementary school, and summers were divided between the swimming pool and the library. As a result of these experiences, libraries have always seemed like a second home to me, which is probably what led to my becoming a librarian! You don’t have to become a librarian, but I hope you will love the library as much as I do! Or at least a little bit. Being comfortable in and with the library will contribute greatly to your academic, and (dare I say), social, success. To that end, here are five tips for using the library.
1. Make yourself at home
As I’ve just implied, a library should feel like a second home. The library has a variety of different sorts of spaces so figure out which one works best for the goal you’re attempting to reach. If you need to work in a group and engage in “lively” discussion, the main floor has an open study space and a couple of rooms to reserve. If you’re seeking quiet and solitude, the top and basement levels have many study carrels where you can focus on your work. There’s also a group viewing room on the bottom level where you can watch VHS tapes on a vintage TV (or DVDs, or streaming TV through a projector), or just gather as a group. There are multiple spaces for different kinds of work and you should keep all these options in mind when planning your schedule.
However, while we librarians want you to feel comfortable here, we also want you to pick up after yourself as you (hopefully) do at home. You are allowed to eat in the library, so please do us the courtesy of throwing away any bottles or food containers. Don’t be the person who finds out what an angry librarian looks like. 🙃
2. Make use of resources
I’ve already talked about the spaces the library offers, but wait, there’s more! Printing in the library is free. We have color as well as black and white printers, available for all your academic needs. There are also laptops to check out if you don’t own one, or if yours has recently experienced any sort of meltdown, or if you just need to use the lockdown browser to take a quiz. If you’re having trouble finding an article or book (or refining a topic, or finding one at all!) there is a librarian specifically on call to help from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., every day during the week, and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. We offer books on every possible topic, so if you’d like to take up knitting or cook an elaborate mid-century meal, we have a book for that, although unfortunately, we can’t provide you the spare time required for such undertakings.
3. Ask questions
One of the most important things you will learn about using the library is that no question is too small or large. If at any point during your research you find yourself lost, please find a librarian to talk to! There is no reason for you to struggle through the process by yourself, and we librarians are both able and willing. We librarians are a voraciously intellectually curious lot, so it’s fun for us to help you solve your dilemmas, be they tracking down a specific article, beginning an exploratory search of a broad topic, or refining a research inquiry. We’re also happy to tell you where the bathrooms are (we have them on each floor!) or help you find a book on the shelf. We welcome all (primarily academic) questions, from the straightforward and simple to the difficult and complex.
4. Be patient
While we are always happy to help you and answer questions, it is important to remember that research can be a long process which will require persistence and patience. It will always require a certain amount of reading and sifting through things, and it’s a process that will demand increasing amounts of your attention. As librarians, we want to make the process of finding these things as painless as possible, and give you methods that will continue to improve what and how much you find. It’s always going to take a certain amount of time, and the further you get into your discipline the more complex your research will be, so it’s important to accept the necessity of giving it your full attention.
Additionally, we librarians are very busy. We all have responsibilities like teaching classes, choosing books and other resources for the library, and a variety of other things like cataloging materials, processing archival collections, maintaining systems, and information literacy assessment. Therefore, if we are not immediately available to help you, please bear with us. We will cheerfully help you once we’re back from teaching or off the phone or finished with helping another student.
5. Get to know the librarians
I keep talking about the librarians so it may seem repetitive to advise getting to know us. However, I stand by it! If you know us you will feel comfortable asking questions, and your Academic struggles will be lessened greatly. We are also completely awesome! Patrick Benner is the library director, and he is the guru of all things technological. He also knows an awful lot about computer history and science fiction. Jason St. Clair is our cataloger, which means he makes sure all materials are in the library catalog so they can be found on the shelves. He is a musician and also reads a lot of sci-fi. Katy Van Arsdale is the special collections librarian and archivist, which means she maintains PUC’s history and deals with SDA scholarship. She wears fabulous nail polish and knows a lot about movies. And I’m Allison Fox, access services librarian—I deal with circulation and do a lot of instruction. I’m obsessed with sentence structure and argument construction, and pop culture.
I hope this gives you some insight into using the PUC library! And of course, all you have to do to find out more is come in and ask.