‘Cat in the Stacks: 5 Things I Wish I Knew About Libraries
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.
I have a dirty secret. In undergrad, I never checked out one single book from the library. I know that makes me sound like a slacker (I’m not!). I plumbed online journals and e-books like it was my full-time job and I was never lacking great internet resources. The few bound books I used, I… *shudder* I bought them from Amazon. Why did I avoid the stacks? Why did a broke college student buy books instead of going to the library?
In all truth, I was sort of intimidated and sort of undereducated about library holdings.
Falvey has taught me a lot so far. Allow me to present the top five things I wish I knew “back in my day” (uh, last year).
I don’t know where I’m going!
Librarians and our friendly library staff members aren’t going to judge you for not feeling confident navigating the stacks. It’s not just about knowing the good ol’ Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress call numbers. (By the way, here’s a guide to call numbers.) It’s also about navigating the library building itself. What good is knowing call numbers if you don’t know where the stacks are? Ask for directions, or check out this map.
I don’t want to go find that book!
Your stacks anxiety does not have to keep you from a good book. You can have your chosen books pulled from the stacks by library staff and held at the circulation desk for you – all via Falvey’s website. Search for a book, click on its page, and go to the Request Hold/Recall link under the ‘Holdings’ tab.
Books are old!
Our library gets new holdings, like, always. I relied on online journals and e-books in college based on a totally erroneous assumption that those bound paper tomes were totally too old for me and my super modern research. Not true. Fresh books come in all the time. And we’re talking fresh fresh. Like new book smell fresh. Yeah. That fresh.
The library doesn’t know about my subject!
Subject librarians. You think all you have is your professor and your classmates and the internet? You’re wrong! You also have your subject librarian, who is probably very familiar with the parameters of your research project (probably having already met with some of your classmates), and who is totally not going to judge you for being a little slow on the uptake on your research topic. I’m not saying your professor will, but perhaps your professor saw you fall asleep during that one particular lecture covering the particular material in question…? Just saying.
The library doesn’t have what I need!
Interlibrary loan. E-Z Borrow. One time I almost paid fifty bucks for an article from a journal to which my library did not subscribe because I had no idea that the library would be able to procure it for me from another institution (hey, I didn’t pop out of the womb knowing how to utilize library services!). When I say that virtually no resource is beyond the ability of our library to obtain, I’m not kidding.
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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