More than a Good Book, Celebrating Access
The value of a local library cannot be overstated. Home to books, magazines, online resources, events, music, and videos, libraries offer citizens young and old various ways to learn, access resources, explore new worlds and more.
Maybe it’s for this reason that Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist and bibliophile—as evidenced by his extensive book collection—was quoted saying, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
At University of Arkansas Grantham, we couldn’t agree more. As an online university offering more than 50 online degree and certificate programs, chances are we’d be lost without our 100% online library, which is designed to give students convenient access to the information and guidance they need to succeed in their studies.
In honor of School Library Month, we're taking some time to explore all the student-supporting resources our library has to offer.
But First, School Library Month?
Shhhh. Don’t expect fireworks in April. It is School Library Month, after all. Peace is part of the process. On the other hand, school libraries are designed to be vibrant educational centers, filled with information and resources to get ahead in the world.
School Library Month began in 1985 as School Library Media Month, with the theme “Where Learning Never Ends: The School Library Media Center.”
At that time, school librarians had the wordy title of “school library media specialist,” perhaps in recognition of all the other multi-media resources school libraries had to offer. When the professional title of “school librarian” was readopted in 2010, the name of the celebratory month was changed, as well, to School Library Month.
This year, School Library Month’s theme really resonates with UA Grantham: “Connect with Your Library.”
Online Libraries Make a Difference
In anticipation of this article, we met Megan Hynek, library leader and Learning Center Manager, to talk about the various benefits and resources available through our online library—a major part of our online student support services.
“We have a really great library,” says Hynek. “We have access to five different databases, and we have a 24/7 chat feature with librarians on the other side. It’s not a bot. These are real, live librarians—so students can get live help whenever they need.”
These librarians are instrumental in helping students find the resources they need to research topics and get help with term papers.
But first, students have to “find” the library. After all, unlike a brick-and-mortar school library, this one resides in cyberspace. To use the library services and get help from our librarians, students can access the library through Blackboard, UA Grantham’s learning management system. Once they click on the relevant link, students can make use of the databases, recommended external websites, the librarian chat feature, and more.
Essential to Term Papers and Scholarly Work
Databases available through UA Grantham’s online library include Ovid (Nursing), IEEE (higher-level engineering), Gale, and EBSCOhost, which is a collection of databases.
“Depending on which school they’re in, some of the databases are more specialized toward certain topics like nursing or engineering—and depending on what they’re looking for, they will select a database and it will start to create searches.”
With these databases, you can be sure that the information you find comes from scholarly, worthy research sources, as they are peer-reviewed prior to publication.
On the flip side, these databases are unlike a typical Google search. There are no cookies to help the search engine anticipate what is needed or to narrow down what is relevant to the searcher.
“The databases don’t work like that,” says Hynek, “They don’t have access to all the Google magic powers. So, students need to be very calculated about how they go about their searches, what search terms they’re using, Boolean operators, the whole thing—which is where the library chat service comes in.”
UA Grantham Student Resources
As the Learning Center Manager, in addition to the online library, Hynek oversees a number of other online resources designed to help students find success in their studies—including the Writing Center, Math Center, Computer Science Center, Engineering Center, as well as tutoring services. UA Grantham also offers an online Nursing Center staffed by the nursing faculty.
“I would really love to see students take advantage of all the resources we have here for them.”
What better time to achieve better grades through a better understanding of these resources, especially the online library--than during School Library Month?
“The library can seem overwhelming at first if you’re not sure what to expect,” says Hynek. “But we have a whole team here ready to help. We have the 24/7 librarian chat full of librarians excited to help you research and teach you how to use the tools you have through UA Grantham.”