Know thy library...Public v. Academic

Libraries are not created equal. What you find in a public library will not be the same materials you find in an academic library. Sometimes, of course, there is cross over, but here are a couple things to keep in mind when going to these two types of libraries.

Public Library
- This is where you can find popular titles, novels, newspapers and magazines, tax forms, children's materials, etc. We help you get started with things like job applications, homework assignments, genealogy and all kinds of other stuff, but we cannot devote the type of time a tutor, consultant or private researcher would devote to your project. You get about 15 minutes and then the librarian needs to help others. That's an approximation, but it's different everywhere. Public libraries do not carry stuff like scholarly journals, entire physical sets of legislative papers, laws, bills, technical papers, etc. You know what else they do not have: TEXTBOOKS. Public libraries do not buy textbooks. The only exception, and it's a rare one, is K-12 textbooks and that's really only when the school in question doesn't have it's own little student library.

Academic Library
- Are you a student at a college or university? If so, BEFORE you head to the public library thinking they have everything you need (they don't), check your school's resources, ESPECIALLY online. Seriously, go to your school's homepage, type "library" in the search box and become familiar with how to use your institution's library. You pay a LOT of tuition and you need to be aware that you have premium resources available to you. This type of library will have the scholarly, peer-reviewed stuff that professors' dreams are made of. They will also have textbooks for check out. You can also use interlibrary loan services. It's the best. If your academic library doesn't have a book or article, generally they'll order it for you. Score. Give it a shot, you owe it to yourself.

No comments: