Beyond the Books: How to Take Advantage of Loyola Libraries
By Eleanor Diaz
When students think of libraries, the mind usually wanders to images of books and silent areas. But Loyola University Chicago Libraries has a range of free resources and services that the majority of students don’t take advantage of.
Less than 5 percent of the people who visited Loyola Libraries homepage from Dec. 26 to Feb. 6 were ages 18 to 24, according to HitWise.
With all the services the library provides, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are some tips and tools to help you make the most of Loyola Libraries.
Explore research tools beyond Google
There are 429 databases listed on the library’s website, ranging from JSTOR to the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft. Narrow down the search by using the “research guides” tool found on the library’s homepage. It divides the databases into 52 majors and topics.
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out this video that explains how to conquer databases:
Abby Annala, reference and instruction librarian at Lewis Library, said the most important resource students should use is the librarians themselves. Every reference librarian has an area they specialize in.
“I also think that students feel like they’re not supposed to ask for help sometimes, or the only person they can ask for help is their professor,” said Annala. “[But] there’s someone at the university whose whole job is to help you.”
Head to the stacks to study
The Berkeley Student Learning Center suggests students should avoid distractions, keep a regular study area and use study groups to review concepts. The Klarchek Information Commons has 29 rooms to rent for group work, and the Donovan Reading Room in the library, fondly referred to as the “Harry Potter room,” is for silent study.
One place that is often overlook is “the stacks,” the part of the library with shelved books and individual desks. Morgan Christian, a junior journalism major who spends 25 hours in the library a week, said her favorite study spot is on the second floor of the stacks.
“I can be by myself and I’m kind of an introvert, so it’s like I’m in my own little space,” said Christian. “It refuels my soul. I’m amongst the books. I’m able to work and think. It’s almost psychologically necessary.”
Kick back with a flick
When Netflix comes up with the same 50 movie options, take a peek at the Loyola Libraries’ DVD collection on its Pinterest page. Each of its 300 “pinned” movies list the actors, directors and IMDB rating.
Students might not know the library also offers streaming videos from its databases, which Annala describes as “academic Netflix.” The databases store anything from documentaries to interactive webinars.
- Alexander Street Press stocks Academy Award-winning films and Cannes Film Festival favorites.
- Alexander Street Press also streams plays such as “Alice in Wonderland” (1983) and “Macbeth: A Taste of Shakespeare” (2003).
- Vanderbilt Television News Archive hosts news segments ranging from 1968 to today.
Stock up on freebies and programs
It’s important for students to take a break from studying. Loyola Libraries offers a variety of free programs and perks for students:
- “The People and Places That Influenced Ernest Hemingway” – Explore the revered author’s influences and travels with Loyola alumna Nancy Sindelar in March
- “Singing so Proud” – Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago Poems” by submitting your own Chicago-themed poetry for a library-sponsored contest
- New York Times subscription – Sign-up for a free one-year subscription to The New York Times
- Donuts with the Dean – Treat yourself to some coffee and sweets while chatting with Dean of Libraries Bob Seal on March 17
Why should you use the libraries’ services anyway?
These resources are only free when you’re in college. In the “adult world,” people have to pay to use archives, attend programs and rent movies.
Annala also explained that the skills students learn from the library will help them professionally.
“I’m sorry but Microsoft Word isn’t a skill anymore. If you turn in a resume, [employers] know you know Microsoft Word,” said Annala. “But if you can tell an employer that you already … have the skills they’re expecting from someone who works there to know, that’s going to separate you from 600 other new graduates who are applying to the same job.”
Whether you hit the books or binge on “academic Netflix,” it pays to use the library.
Feature photo by: Unsplash, Markus Spiske