Take advantage of library resources

September 14, 2018

Of all the services that students learn about during Orientation, one of the most overlooked is the Brandeis library. Our library is home to a wealth of services that students can benefit from, but not just first-years are in the dark—many upperclassmen are also unaware of how the library can help them.

Research librarians are some of campus’ unsung heroes. One of our own upper-class editorial members did not know about them until junior year. Research librarians can help students find articles, books or statistics for their research projects, or help them get started by focusing on a research topic or properly citing their sources. The Research Help Desk is open for drop-ins during weekdays, or you can make an appointment. There is also an online chat function that you can click on the side of any research-related webpage.

Many students, regardless of age, may feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start in the face of a large research paper. The Research Help Desk is there to guide you, whether for a UWS research paper or a senior thesis.

Another vital resource in the library is Interlibrary Loan (ILL). It is a free service for students to access materials that aren’t available in the Brandeis library. This ranges from online access to an article, to a book from another library being shipped to Brandeis for you to pick up. ILL can be a lifesaver if there is a book you need for class or research that you don’t want to buy, but that Brandeis doesn’t have. ILL uses the database WorldCat, which, as the name suggests, is a worldwide catalog of books, articles, movies and other materials.

Aside from academic research, the library can help with practical matters as well. Most people know that you can check out laptops and phone or computer chargers from the Information and Borrowing desk. But did you know that you can also check out calculators, portable DVD drives, board games, desk lamps and umbrellas? Students can loan myriad items that they may never have thought to ask for, but that will make study sessions a lot easier.

The Information and Borrowing desk is also home to reserve books, which are textbooks that can be checked out for two hours at a time. There’s no need to purchase an expensive biology book or a novel that you’ll never read again—simply check it out from the reserves and use it for two hours, or scan the pages you need at the free scanners and email yourself the file.

As you descend the floors of the library, not only does it become quieter, but you will stumble upon a slew of other services, such as the Sound and Image Media Studios (SIMS, formerly known as Getz Media Lab) and Archives and Special Collections. Visit SIMS if you need to check out equipment like video cameras and tripods, and head to Archives to peruse the wealth of primary source materials for a research paper or thesis. The Archives also features resources such as maps, university records and photographs.

Aside from these regular daily services, the library also holds events like the recent voter registration tabling. Students got assistance with absentee voter registration or updating their Massachusetts polling place (and there was free cake!).

Orientation and first-year programs should better inform students about the library’s services, as it can be hard to find this information otherwise, and some upperclassmen continue through their time at Brandeis without ever using them. The library is a central hub at Brandeis—and should be recognized not just for its status as one of the most social places on campus, but for its myriad helpful services.

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