By Nicole Rosenthal
Dim lighting, stacks of books and absolute silence are just a few characteristics that come to mind when discussing typical libraries.
For students who need to write papers or theses, the library can seem like a daunting place: many students may not even know where to begin, as endless shelves sorted in some foreign code can be overwhelming.
Yet, with the influx of ever-changing technology, libraries, including the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library on campus, have begun to introduce new and effective ways to study, research, and participate in group work to prepare students for the modern world.
The campus’ library has recently introduced high-bench tables and soft seating, “many of which have been powered so students can plug in and/or charge their devices,” said Assistant Professor Eduardo Rivera, head of reference services. Initially implemented about a year and a half ago, additional seating and other amenities have been added periodically. “Responding to student requests, we have [added] scan and fax stations as well.”
However, modified furniture and new machines aren’t all the library has to offer for students doing research; the librarians are more than happy to help with any task, from finding specific articles to reviewing citations.
“There are a number of resources to assist students with their research needs,” Rivera said. “They range from the online databases for finding scholarly articles, as well as magazine and newspaper articles, to the Library Guides, which are research guides that librarians create for focused research help. We also provide digital delivery of print and microform periodicals within our collection and Interlibrary Loan for items not in our collection that we can get from other institutions.”
Through the Interlibrary Loan system, students will be able to find scholarly articles and navigate through various online databases, as well as benefit from assistance with the proper citation of their sources. The service aims to expand the range of publications available to the community, not just for students, but also for administrators, faculty, and staff. Books and articles that are not owned by the campus library are available upon request to be borrowed from other libraries through an online catalog.
In addition to the cross-library exchange, the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library is home to The Archives and Special Collections Department, which contains about 60,000 items that include books, manuscripts, correspondence, journals, photographs, posters, maps, original drawings, theatre programs, archival documents, and an abundance of other materials.
The department provides special access to rare and unique collections in order to “support and encourage the research needs and participation in academic programs of undergraduate and graduate students,” according to its mission statement on the website.
“Not only can librarians assist students in finding sources, [but] we can also teach students to properly evaluate the sources they find for their research,” Rivera said. “A popular research service that we provide is our Book-a-Librarian service where a student can schedule an appointment with a librarian for personalized research help. For Book-a-Librarian, we did 12 appointments in September and I expect that to pick up greatly as we get closer to when term papers are due. Toward the middle to end of the semester is when that service is its busiest.”
The B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library is filled with resources for students, ranging from updated technology to extensive archives to personal librarian assistance. The school has updated the library’s services in order to provide the campus community with a comfortable environment where students and others can access a multitude of resources.
To further serve students for final exams, the library will be open 24 hours from Dec. 13-21, with the café operating until 12 a.m., and librarian help available until 1 a.m.