By Emma Martinez
Another semester has begun, and another round of syllabuses have been handed out. Students have made it through the first two weeks of classes and many are already daunted by the assignments ahead. However, in this semester as every semester before, the Everett L. Cattell Library stands fully prepared to get students through their assignments and projects.
Though the preparedness of the library never changes, this semester will require a bit more intentionality and foresight than in the past. Keeping library resources safe and germ-free has become essential, which in turn has altered how the library staff operates.
“There is a quarantine of three days before you can touch something,” Rebecca Fort, library director, said. “As far as books that people order from other places, we put them in quarantine. [When] somebody returns a book here we put it in quarantine before it goes back up on the shelf, so it’s safe by the time it goes out.”
Practically, this means that students will have less time to procrastinate on projects that require books from the library. Both books ordered from other locations or any books that perhaps several students in the same class will also be checking out are affected.
Though the process of getting books to patrons looks different right now, several resources the Everett L. Cattell Library offers are still in operation. OhioLINK and OPAL are valuable resources, as they allow students the opportunity to order books from other schools.
“I am constantly using, as much as I can with COVID-19, OPAL and OhioLINK,” Dr. Jacalynn Stuckey, professor of history, said. “When I’m engaged in research and I need books, I don’t have to buy them even when we may not have them here in the library.”
Several students have also seen firsthand how useful ordering books through OhioLINK can be.
“[I love] the ability to request books from other libraries because a lot of the books that I used for my thesis were fiction, which our library does not have a lot of, so I was able to go through the library’s systems to find all the books I needed,” Daleen Cowgar, a senior English major and author of a recently finished honors thesis, said. “Also, the online databases were really helpful to find academic works I needed.”
The online databases are also valuable resources that the library provides. This feature is noted by professors, students and librarians alike.
“We have a lot of stuff online,” Fort said. “If people are doing remote work they don’t even have to come in to utilize them, but I think that a lot of times people don’t go to the library website to check.”
“When I do my research there are two online databases that I use: EBSCO and JSTOR,” Stuckey said, “EBSCO is more comprehensive, but sometimes JSTOR is easy to find scholarly articles… Even if you don’t want to go into the library, there are still many resources that the library offers online.”
While online library resources are great tools in students’ research arsenal, there is good reason to be wary of the simple Google search.
“I think that [students] would be surprised at the amount of things they miss by doing a Google search,” Fort said. “When they use Google they get a lot of stuff, certainly, but it’s not necessarily academic; it’s not necessarily true or factual. Sometimes, if they do find those things through Google, they end up having to be charged for access when we’ve already paid for it.”
“There’s no need to use un-peer reviewed or non-academic, non-scholarly resources from the internet; you can find [academic sources] through our library… from the comfort of your residential hall!” Stuckey said.
Students should also be aware of the wealth of information that are the library staff members. They are ready and eager to assist students in avoiding common research mistakes and to help access information that students may not find as easily on their own.
“Kris is our reference librarian… She’s working remote, so she’s available [online] and she’s really good about watching her computer,” Fort said. “A lot of times I think people struggle with things that she could help them with very quickly; I think that they forget that they have us as a resource.”
The library is open and its staff is ready and willing to assist students with whatever they can. From online resources to finding books from the library shelves, ordering from other libraries or even using the unique resource that is the archives—students have all the resources they need to successfully complete the research projects that seem impossible at the outset of the semester.