Library offers stack of services

The library is not just for checking out books anymore. Students may not realize it, but the Newton Gresham Library offers an array of services that can make studying easier and more efficient. “Students think if you can’t find it electronically, that it isn’t available by one way or another,” Library Director Ann Holder said of students’ misconception. The library, Holder said, hosts close to 180 databases with about 15,000 unduplicated scholarly journals, in addition to the 2.2 million other items, including books, bound journals and government documents. One of the newest services the library has implemented is the E-Z Search online feature, which just became available last summer. The service is a result of an independent marketing study Dr. John Newbold’s marketing class conducted in the spring of 2007. Four research teams of three to four students set out to discover what would make the library more convenient for students. The marketing students spent the whole semester researching and each of the teams uncovered the same findings: when students didn’t know how to find the information they were looking for, they didn’t want to have to search. “They wanted no more than two clicks,” Holder said. “They wanted Google.”And that’s what they got. The E-Z Search feature is on the library’s home page and provides a small search box, just like Google. It allows students to search SamCat, the library catalog, as well as several databases at the same time. Students can even refine their search criteria by subject to narrow down the selections. All this can be done in just few clicks. Holder said there are a lot of things students should know about the library. It is open a total of 100 hours a week, even until 1 a.m., four nights a week. It still offers the more traditional services, but the library has begun to offer new services to keep up with the needs of busy students. Holder says the library has ways of making information more easily accessible to students. Another new feature the library has implemented is the online Virtual Reference service, under the Ask a Librarian tab on the home page. If students have a question about a database, they can chat live with a librarian, even from home. The librarians can help students navigate through the online resources using the Ask-A-Librarian feature, which can be accessed any time the library is open. “There’s a lot of ways we help students get past their anxieties about the library,” Holder said.For instance, some of the databases accessible through the library can prepare citations for APA, MLA and Chicago styles. These style guides and others, including William Strunk Jr.’s The Elements of Style, are available by clicking the Databases and Indexes link from the library’s home page. Most students know they can use their Bearkat One Card to check out books at the circulation desk, but if a book or journal is not available, it can be ordered from another library through ILLiad, the interlibrary loan management system, and picked up here. Material can be received at the Newton Gresham Library in less than 10 days, or students can apply for a TexShare card in order to pick up books at other libraries in the state. Holder said most of the library’s databases are provided through the TexShare program, which allows 154 libraries throughout the state to access each other’s material.Library Associate Marsha Dickens says one of the most valuable features of the library is its people. “Our workers are glad you’re here,” she said. “They want to help by working with students and answering questions.” The library has 18 librarians that each specialize in a particular subject, so someone is always available to help. “I think students will find this very valuable,” Holder said.

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