Campus Life

University Libraries: Don’t Put Them On The Shelf

"We love our books, but we have so much more than that."
By Katie White, The Battalion January 31, 2011

Business Library & Collaboration Commons
The Business Library & Collaboration Commons.

(Texas A&M Marketing & Communications)

Lea Engle, learning and outreach librarian for University Libraries, said most students do not know they have five different libraries at their disposal.

“Students don’t just use the library for books. We love our books, but we have so much more than that,” Engle said.

What could the library possibly have besides books? The Media Reserves on the Annex fourth floor is home to thousands of movies and television shows on DVD and are available for students to rent for free.

“I think I use all the services the library provides,” said Brittany Johnson, a senior international studies major. “I rent movies, and I try to check out my textbooks from there before I go and buy them. And I watch television shows in there when I get bored on campus.”

Students can watch the movies on the computers on the fourth floor. Professors sometimes reserve movies to be kept in the library for students to come and watch.

“We also have something called Suggest a Purchase. It’s a link and if we don’t own something you think we should own, fill out a purchase request, and if we truly don’t have it, we most of the time just go ahead and buy it,” Engle said.

Suggest a Purchase works in the Media Reserves, and Engle encourages students to use it if the library does not own a movie or television show they want to rent. She also said students could use it to get books for recreational reading.

“Sometimes, we just don’t know what students want to read,” Engle said.

Beyond movies, the Media Reserves rents out Rosetta Stone and other language courses to students for free when they can cost more than $500 to buy. The CD-ROMs teach languages varying from Chinese to Italian to Yiddish.

“iPods at West Campus Library come preloaded with popular business audio books,” Engle said.

The University Libraries own digital cameras, video cameras, iPods, digital voice recorders, projectors, headphones and calculators also available for students to rent.

“We have space here you can use to do presentation practice,” Engle said. “You can reserve it like a regular study room.”

Evans Library also houses Map and GIS Collection Services.

“The maps room is really great, there are really pretty maps in there and some are really old, but there are also maps of anything you could ever imagine,” Engle said. “What I find really helpful are tour maps and guides to help students who might be planning a trip.”

Engle said the staff in the map room have the ability to map virtually any type of information a student brings to them, including demographics, geographics and statistics.

“They can map all of that so it is visually displayed,” Engle said. “You can look at the maps or they can help you map something.”

Librarians are also available to students for research training. Engle encourages students to meet the librarian who specializes in their field of study and to develop a relationship with them early in their college careers.

“Some of our librarians do office hours outside of Evans, in different buildings. They will promote it on their subject guides. Sometimes they will have a table in a common area for students to just come up and ask them,” Engle said.

The Policy Sciences & Economics Library, located in the Annenburg Center, has a small open access lab, but a large amount of databases on grants available for application. Engle said the Medical Sciences Library is also beneficial to students, especially those in the agricultural, veterinary or medical track.

“There’s a tunnel from the Medical Sciences Library to the vet school. If you are in any way connected to that area of study, you need to visit that library and take advantage of what it has to offer.”

Across the parking lot from the Medical Sciences Library stands the West Campus Library, which is geared towards business students. Ryan Crombar, a senior accounting major, said the top floor is the quietest place to study.

“Each floor gets more and more quiet, so the serious studying happens on the top floor,” Crombar said.

West Campus Library study rooms can be reserved online. More than studying, librarians at WCL are able to conduct company and industry research.

“This is a good thing for seniors to know especially,” Engle said. “If you have a job interview and you want to research a company and show them you’ve done your homework, come to us and we will help you with your research.”

The fifth library on campus stands on the back side of Evans, yet most students never visit it. Cushing Memorial Library is what Engle calls a library museum. Cushing sports archival collections of rare manuscripts and collectible items such as original writings by author J.R.R. Tolkien.

“You can study in there, too, but you cannot take food or drink in because there are so many old documents,” Engle said.

“You can also only use yellow paper and no pens. Some research requires training because you might be dealing with very sensitive material.”

Cushing Memorial Library runs a Flickr account with historic images of the University through the years and its development.

“One other way to keep up with what’s happening here is on our Facebook page,” Engle said. “We’re always finishing a project, planning a project and starting a new project.”

This article by Katie White originally appeared in The Battalion.

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