What Local Libraries Offer Students
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Local libraries offer many resources and opportunities for students looking to make the most of their education.
For centuries, libraries have helped students learn by providing access to materials and educational support resources. According to a 2018 College and Research Libraries study, college students who took at least one library instruction course experienced an average GPA increase of 0.08%, proving that academic libraries still provide a valuable service for students.
The digital age has changed how people use public libraries, leading many institutions to introduce new services and resources to attract visitors. A Pew Research Center survey found a considerable increase in classes and programs offered in libraries from 2015-2016, along with an increase in the availability of high-tech equipment.
This guide examines local libraries and how their services can help students.
What Do Local Libraries Offer Students?
In addition to checking out books and other physical materials, libraries offer access to useful resources and spaces that students might not have at home or school. For example, with digital subscriptions increasing in popularity, students can often find paywalled materials free of charge through their local libraries. They can also use computers and other technology, like 3D printers and gaming consoles.
Local libraries also provide community services for students. Reference librarians can help students find materials or develop effective research plans and habits. Many institutions offer distinct workspaces, including quiet options for solo work and makerspaces where groups of people can collaborate.
How Can I Find What My Local Library Offers?
Libraries have come a long way since the days of the card catalog system. Most institutions now use digital catalogs, which include clear instructions on how visitors can find the materials they need.
With a library card, patrons can also search library catalogues from home to discover if the library has the resource they need before they visit. For individuals looking for broad suggestions or who are just browsing, public library websites typically offer a variety of menu options. When in doubt, visitors can contact the support team by phone, email, or online chat.
What If I Need Something My Local Library Doesn't Have?
When a library does not have a specific book or magazine, visitors can use an interlibrary loan, which is a communal system that allows libraries to share resources. If a resource is unavailable at your local library, try speaking with a staff member to see if they can acquire the material through interlibrary loans.
Students can pursue all types of reading materials available through this system, as well as other media formats like audiobooks, movies, and music. However, note that some libraries will not loan out newly published DVDs, CDs, or related materials for various reasons. Those interested in this service should allow for several weeks for the materials to arrive and check with their local library to see what materials the service covers.
What Else Do Local Libraries Offer Students?
Aside from loaning books, local libraries provide services for their communities. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 94% of Americans say that libraries improve community life. Libraries provide communal gathering spaces, run programs, and offer services to unite and educate community members.
For example, local libraries often dedicate space to specific community interests, like offering makerspaces for technology lovers or craftspeople. Some libraries offer access to technologies, such as gaming or computer applications, whose costs may be otherwise prohibitive for some users.
Libraries often host special events — especially those that encourage learning and reading. Visitors can usually find book fairs and sales at their local public libraries, as well as book signings and readings from local and visiting authors. Some institutions host art exhibits and special presentations, as well.
Libraries also run educational programs and workshops for participants of various ages. These programs may cover language training, school subjects, or library training and literacy courses. Some libraries even allocate space for local colleges or training organizations to run courses or proctor online exams.
Check with your local library to discover what services they offer in your community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Public libraries provide access to materials and resources, community spaces, and various learning and support services. These institutions usually offer something for all age groups and demographics, particularly students. Learners can bypass paywalls and subscription costs at libraries, take courses, and find quiet study spaces.
In addition to offering access to quiet study spaces, libraries support students by cataloguing analog materials and helping with research. They can also offer access to technology that may be too expensive for the student to purchase.
Most prominently, the library provides books, periodicals, and other research resources, which can help students with their education. Students can also use the library's technology, receive research assistance from librarians, join a training program, or simply find a quiet space to read or complete school work.
Public libraries provide access to resources and services for free. Students can often find materials that they cannot find online or would have to pay for, and the materials available through a library are often more thorough and reliable than what's available online.
The library and the internet each offer great value for students. While they overlap in many situations, students may find that the internet gives them easy access to ideas and secondhand information, while libraries offer more reliable scholarly sources and access to materials that only exist in physical form.
Header Image Credit: FG Trade | Getty Images
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