It is nearly impossible to talk about the importance of the college library without sounding old-fashioned, nerdy or fearful of modern technology. Many institutions have even gone so far as to change the name of the traditional campus library to include phrases such “media center”, “learning support services” and others just to avoid the image of the tired, dusty library.
At the risk of all of those brands, I want to urge you, at some point this semester, to visit your college library (or whatever clever name your college prefers to call it)…at least once. Before you close out of this article, let’s at least explore for a second why this location should be on your “must do” list.
Advances in technology over the past decades are profound—it has been said that most of us have more information available on our mobile phone than was ever housed in a bound encyclopedia set.
When we have a question, about virtually anything, we can find a series of (potential) answers in moments by asking our favorite search engine. The ability for us to be knowledgeable is likely greater today than at any other time in our collective history.
But, yet, I still suggest you visit your college library. Why?
First, you should get over the idea that everything you may ever want to know is found outside its walls. Your college library was constructed a time long before Google and smartphones—it is a testament to the very nature of college; the accumulation of knowledge.
By spending more than a few minutes inside, you will find that there are volumes, shelves, floors and archives of some of the greatest thoughts ever developed by humankind. These are the kind of periodicals that will likely never appear in the first pages of your search engine.
Being able to comb over the same periodicals and archives as students who have preceded you at your institution will give you some insight into what they were thinking as well. It will make you part of the fabric of your college.
It is also important to note that often the library offers more than just physical research materials. Your campus library is often the place in which learning support services (tutoring, the writing center, study groups, etc.) are housed.
Seeking help and connecting with those resources if often a factor in collegiate success. The best students, and I mean this, are the ones who are in the library, studying in groups, and seeking answers on the questions in which they struggle.
To help facilitate that interaction, libraries often have dedicated spaces just for students to share a workspace together. These are perfect spaces to meet for those dreaded group projects that are going to be due in the next few weeks!
Finally, and probably most-romantically, the college library has a certain atmosphere that cannot be replicated. Something about the smell, the rows and rows of books and the hushed quiet creates a sensory experience that is unmistakable.
The campus library was created as a depository of information, yes, but also as a sign of the institution’s commitment to learning. Generations of students, much like you, have nervously ventured into its doors to find answers and accumulate knowledge. There is something, truly romantic, about knowing that you are part of the evolving history of your college.
Recall the title of this article—visiting your college library (at least once) is important, but it is far more critical to do so before you have to! The first time you step foot in this building should not be in a panic.
If you are waiting until the very last minute to find sources for a term paper, seek tutoring assistance or develop a study group, it is probably too late. Become familiar with all of these resources and opportunities at a time when it isn’t vital so that when it is, you’ll be ready and prepared.
The college library should be something more than a building that you passed on your tour of campus—use it to help maximize your success and further become part of your institution’s culture.