Monday, September 15, 2014
What a Library Is; What a Library Means
May 28th, 2013 by The Little Teapot
Quite frequently I see students in the library doing–how should I put this?–non-academic activities. Sleeping is the most common one, and also various online hobbies such as playing WoW (or CoH or other MMORPGs), watching videos (I actually saw a student watching the 1984 television version of the Legend of the Condor Heroes once, which made me almost weep with nostalgia), browsing Facebook and other social media websites. The one activity I have to swoop in and stop is eating, as food, including crumbs, stains and leftovers, will attract pests, not to mention introduce unpleasant odours.
While noticing all these extra-curricular activities, I sometimes wonder how students view the library nowadays. Reams of articles, surveys and data have been generated in the library science field on the perception of the library by its users, and I don’t think anyone has definitively come up with an answer. There is usually a gap between what the user of the library wants and needs, and what the library offers. Filling this gap takes resources and we may not always get it right.
The library as a physical space has become increasingly irrelevant for learning and research, as entire fields of information, such as company financials, statistics, indexes and industry data are moving online. However, the library as an entity has become increasingly important–and paradoxically more invisible–as electronic resources need to be reviewed, subscribed to, organized, and presented to users in a meaningful and accessible form. Users may see the “graceful swan”, which is easy access to information they need. Alas, they may overlook all the hard pedaling the swan needs to do under the surface.
So, while I do not worry that the library as a space is taken up by users for leisure activities, I do worry that users do not see and so hence do not value, the fact that librarians work tirelessly to obtain and proffer information that would otherwise be locked away and made available only at a prohibitive cost. So use the e-resources while you have them, students; once you graduate, all the easily accessible articles, statistics, company reports and other online information will be closed to you!
Monday, September 01, 2014
7 Things Freshmen Should Know But Usually Don’t
Jul 31st, 2014 by umarani
You probably know your NUSNET ID, since without it, you can’t access your NUS email as well as the all-important IVLE. But a surprising number of students don’t know their library PINs, which is the smartcard PIN issued during matriculation. The library PIN is needed for checking your loan record, renewing books and borrowing books using the self-service machines, among other things. You can retrieve it here.
2. RBR books can be borrowed overnight
Reserve Books/Readings (RBR) are highly sought after because they are recommended readings for various modules and can be borrowed only for 2 hours. However, few students know that they can borrow the an RBR book overnight just before the library closes and return it within one hour of the library’s opening the next day. For details look here.
3. Most books have a grace period
You probably know that the loan period for books is 14 days for undergraduates and 28 days for honours & graduate students. But did you know there is a grace period and that fines don’t start until the 4th day after the due date? Be careful to read the fine print (6. Rate of fines), as the grace period doesn’t apply to RBR books, 7-day loan books, bound journals and other materials.
4. You cannot renew an item if there is already a hold
Sure, you may know that you can renew books three times online, and you may even know how much extension a renewal gives. But what you may not know is that you cannot renew an item once there is a hold on it. That’s why it is a bad idea to bring books overseas for a long vacation as you cannot count on being able to renew the loan.
5. The proxy bookmarklet is your other friend
Google may be your friend, but what happens if it shows a journal article that requires you to pay? Instead of replicating your search in the catalogue, save time by using the proxy bookmarklet to access the article directly! Do note that the proxy bookmarklet only works on journals that the library subscribes to.
Using Google Scholar or PubMed instead? We have you covered as well. Also check out other useful search plugins that will allow you to access NUS Libraries resources seamlessly no matter where you are.
6. There are easier ways to cite and do referencing
We have quick guides to assist in referencing for various styles. But there are many ways to auto-enerate citations quickly. These range from using build-in functions in the library search engines, databases and Google Scholar, to using standalone citation builders you can find online. You can also consider learning how to use a full blown reference manager like EndNote (you can install this for free as a student or staff of NUS by following instructions in our EndNote guide), as these help you auto-insert citations into your Word documents.
7. Librarians have expertise and are here to help you
While librarians can’t do your homework, we can help you find books, papers and data sets relevant to your research and assignments. In addition, some of us are skilled in patent searching, use of reference managers, bibliometrics and may also have subject specific expertise. Contact your resource librarian today, or come for our orientations sessions to learn about using the library effectively for your assignments!