Tips For Being a Savvy Library User (From the Inside)
April 09, 2012
This is a republication of a previous blog post. This post was chosen as a winner of our first internal blog contest.
Working at the Library has many benefits and one of the best among them is that it helps you to become a super-efficient library user. After more than three years of working at MCPL, I feel confident that I could walk into just about any library in the country and fairly quickly figure out how to access almost anything that I could possibly want or need, which is a singularly empowering feeling. I realize looking back, however, that even though I have always been an avid library user, I have not always felt the level of comfort or experienced as much convenience as I do now when using the library. It wasn't until I actually started working at one (as well as got a degree in library science) that I began to fully understand how to navigate the system and harness the astonishingly, enormous amount of information and entertainment that the Library puts at my fingertips.
I wish that somehow everyone out there could have the opportunity to get to know libraries as intimately as I have through my work and training, or that I could tell every single person that comes into the Library all about everything that we can help them do. I know that would be physically impossible (and maybe just a tiny bit annoying), so I am here today to offer you something like second best: my own personal top tips (based on observation) for conveniently maximizing your usage and access to all of the resources MCPL has to offer, condensed into a handy little list.
- The Library's website is your best friend! If you are reading this blog, you probably already know this. There is information about just about every service, program, and resource MCPL offers on the website, as well as direct access to many items in the collection (including downloadable e-Books and a plethora of research databases filled with full-text articles and all kinds of reference information). Plus, there's direct access to your Library account, where you can renew items, place holds, and much more. And, MCPL's website is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So, even if the building is closed or you can't make it in, you can still visit the Library virtually. If you haven't already, take a moment to explore our website. And if you just can't get enough, you can also follow us on social media sites like Facebook for even more up to the minute updates.
- Don't be shy! If there is something you need help finding or figuring out, please ask us. Don't be embarrassed if you don't understand how materials are organized (we have definitely changed some things in the past couple of years), or you can't remember the title of a book you need, or if the topic you're researching is controversial or embarrassing. We are not here to judge you, we are here to help you find what you need! Even as a librarian, I have gone into other libraries and not understood the organization system. The quickest solution is definitely to just ask.
- Look for the advanced search option! This is just a good all around tip for any sort of online searching, but I'm specifically talking about searching the Library catalog. There are literally several million individual items in MCPL's collection, and if your search is too general, you may get way too many results to sort and find what you're looking for. The advanced search gives you options for limiting your searches that can make finding exactly what you want much easier and faster.
- Check out the Research Databases! If you are doing any sort of research, I can almost guarantee you that you will be able to find something helpful in one of MCPL's research databases. There is so much there, I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice it to say, if you haven't checked out the databases, you are missing out on a major source of great information (and entertainment)!
Hope this is helpful!
-Lee's Summit Branch