Wednesday, September 24, 2008

College Tip #1: Really Use Your Library

With the cost of books for college, there's one source for books that many college students do not think about utilizing. I admit I did not figure out this tip till I looked over at my neighbor in one of my History classes and saw a library label on the binding.

Get your books from the library. You'd be surprised how many assigned books are available through the library. You need to plan and be proactive to take advantage of this.
1. The week before school starts, go to the bookstore to get your list of books. Some bookstores have the assigned books available online, so check their website first.
2. Compare the list of your assigned books to your school's online library catalog. You may find at least a couple of books available through your library.
3. If not, look through the inter-library loan catalog. If you can send in an order online for an inter-library loan, do so. You can also do an interlibrary loan in person at the library with help from the Reference desk.
4. Go to the library as soon as you can to get your books.
5. Once you have access to it, check your syllabus. If your text required for class is for reading alone, you may be able to get by with an older version. If your homework schedule indicates questions specifically from the book (e.g. page 145 questions 2-5), you will need to have the specific edition indicated.
6. Renew regularly throughout the semester. Many university libraries have a system where you can renew through their website. At my university, they would eventually limit the number of times you could renew online, but I could still keep the book if I just went in to renew in person.

By the first or second week of school you may have a harder time getting the books from the library if someone else in your class is trying to do the same thing. This is a good strategy especially for general education courses; books for classes that are a part of your major you are more likely to keep for reference than books required for only one class.

This may work best with Humanities and Social Sciences classes that use books that have been in print for years or books that are read both in academic and popular literature circles. I thought it would not work for people who have classes heavily based in textbook, but some Indian friends of ours insisted they were able to regularly find the textbooks they needed for their Computer Science classes at the library.

Since your student fees pay for your library, make sure to get the most out of your tuition.

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