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‘Cat in the Stacks: How Not to Be Unsmart During Fall Research Week


I’m Michelle Callaghan, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.


Sometimes we work in ways that are a little, well, unsmart. It’s not that we are unsmart, it’s that we don’t know how many options and tools exist that might keep us from working unsmart.

This is particularly true of the library’s website.

I was extolling the virtues of our Falvey online catalog the other day, unprompted, and was told that my excitement is probably blog-worthy. (I promise I’m not writing on commision.) Since we’re heading into fall break – and fall break is, for many, fall research week – I’m going to point out the really simple things I overlooked during my first year researching with Falvey that are now freeing up so much of my time – and more time is a happy thing.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the “cite this” button. Every listing you come across through Falvey’s catalog comes with a list of citations in APA, Chicago, and MLA. Click “cite this” It’s best to just compile this information right off the bat when you find a source of relative interest, instead of hoarding documents with nondescript links. You live, you learn. cite this

Every time a librarian tells you to try Zotero, do it. Listen to them. I am no expert, and in fact, I’m pretty sure I know 0.5% of the capabilities of Zotero, but all know is I was able to pop in a big list of ISBNs this weekend and came out with a list of MLA-cited books. It was like Christmas morning.

ILL and E-Z Borrow. You can have all the books. All the books. WorldCat what Falvey doesn’t have, and Falvey shall provide.

Librarian chat.  You know how sometimes you go on a company’s website and a little chat box appears with a prewritten greeting — Hi, I’m Samantha and I’m here to help! — and you click out because, well, chances are there’s no Samantha there, and the box is sort of annoying. Guess what? Not the case with our live librarian chat. If you see green, there’s a librarian at a computer somewhere, prepared to help you. No need to even leave your room. And no need to feel awkward making an appointment or drafting a full-blown “sincerely yours” email for a very quick question about citations or book renewal. Your librarians are all ears.


Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.



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Last Modified: October 8, 2015

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