Are Libraries Still Useful?
The internet has completely changed the way we deal with information nowadays. There is virtually no data that can’t be found online quicker than more efficiently than in any library. Inevitably, this reduced the value physical data sources hold. But does that mean libraries have become completely obsolete in our days? Not quite.
A visit to a library can definitely pay off. First and foremost it serves as a great work environment. In today’s fast-paced setting it can be quite difficult to find a suitable place to work and study at peace. This is especially true for students that may not even have too much personal space in their dorm room. Let alone a dedicated workspace.
So if you are desperately looking for a place to study – a public library can be your best bet. It’s quiet, it usually provides access to free internet connection, and the chances of someone disturbing you while you are in there are close to zero. And if you are a fan of old-school methods or are looking for some specific documents – a library can become an invaluable source of research materials.
And even though there are fewer and fewer new libraries built today than, say, a decade ago, they are not that hard to find. There may be one hiding just across the street from you. A quick internet search should reveal more than one suitable location. All you need to do is take a quick walk and pick the one that you like best.
Moreover, almost every college and university has its own library on campus. It’s usually much bigger than just a book storage facility. The constant stream of students that pass through such places ensures a sense of community and a richer basis for research and education.
Things You Can Find at the Library
Bigger libraries today serve as education centers and offer a great range of services any student can find extremely useful. A library for students is usually a base for a huge variety of extracurricular activities, classes, study groups, clubs and student organizations. Its doors are open to all who seek knowledge.
Chances are, you can join a math club, take extra language classes or take up photography even in smaller local libraries. And if there is no such option – you can always start a group of like-minded individuals yourself. You can sometimes even get a dedicated room to hold your meetings at. Just send a request to the library administration detailing your idea. If it doesn’t disrupt the library’s operations – chances are it’s going to get approved.
And even if your ideas aren’t directly connected with education – you can still give it a shot. For example, if you are dabbling in student government or leading a student gazette – you can try setting up your base of operations to work and hold meetings in one of the library rooms. Student organizations rarely have the budget to get a proper office. And such an option, besides being most likely free, offers an added benefit of being directly on or nearby your college campus.
One of the great things about public libraries is the visiting hours. They are usually open from early in the morning to very late in the evening. This gives students the opportunity to take care of their studies on their own time regardless of how busy their schedule is. You can even visit a library for a quick break between classes.
There is a downside to this sort of schedule though. These days, some students prefer a strictly nocturnal style of life. Indeed, the dim light and silence of the night is a much more enticing study environment than bright, noisy and busy days. And so it’s no wonder that some people feel more productive sitting in front of their laptop at 3 in the morning than any of their peers in the middle of the day.
For such people, finding suitable library hours becomes pretty much impossible. Of course, you can sneak in an hour or two in the evening or in the morning. But the bulk of your waking hours will not be overlapping with your library’s schedule. On the one hand, the dead of the night can be just as peaceful as any library. On the other hand, you will have to rely on your own internet searching skills for research.
Best Libraries to Study In
Most of the time your options are limited to libraries located in your immediate area. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and appreciate the glory of some of the best establishments in the world. Let’s go through a list of the libraries you should definitely visit if you are nearby as they won’t leave you disappointed.
George Peabody Library – Johns Hopkins University
This one is something you expect to see in the movies. It’s an old 19th-century building that has been thoroughly remodeled to become one of the most beautiful libraries in existence. It’s located at the Peabody campus and is open to the public. Its luxurious design makes it more of a tourist attraction than an actual library. It’s a very popular library and it’s definitely worth visiting nonetheless.
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center – University of Connecticut
Although it’s technically not a library, it houses an impressive collection of books including the Rare Books Collection. It’s surrounded by various institutes and research centers including the Human Rights Institute. If your location allows you to visit it semi-regularly, you can use it as a great research base for any of your written assignments. But even if you can only visit it in passing – there’s plenty to see there.
Firestone Library – Princeton University
The building of Firestone library may not look like much. However, it’s much bigger on the inside. The small building bears over three extensive underground levels that house more books than the library can keep. Only the first two levels are open to staff and students. The third houses some pretty rare specimens and can only be accessed with special permission from the library’s administration.
Princeton University itself is one of the most prestigious universities on the planet. Getting accepted is an achievement in and of itself. And access to the library is one of the benefits of pulling such a feat off. Firestone library can easily add to your list of incentives to study harder in order to be accepted into Princeton despite the harsh competition.
Suzzallo Library – University of Washington
Suzzallo library is a pretty interesting place. It’s a cradle of knowledge that houses tons of very special books collections. It was opened in 1963 and some of the books you can find there are over 200 years old, making them about twice as old as the library itself.
Folger Shakespeare Library – Amherst College
Folger Shakespeare library is a very special place. This one isn’t owned by the government and can be considered absolutely independent. Nonetheless, among almost 5 million books in its possession are copies of works of some of the most prominent authors of all time.
Naturally, as can be guessed by the library’s name, a lot of attention was given to the collections of Shakespear’s works as well as other art (like paintings and sculptures) in any way connected to his name. So if you find yourself in Washington DC, you should definitely pay it a visit.
James B. Hunt Jr. Library – North Carolina State University
This library is not as much of a storage facility as it is an engineering marvel. It took over 100 million dollars to construct this one. A huge chunk of this sum went on the implementation of the Book Bot technology. The Book Bot effectively makes the library automated with huge robots sliding across the shelves sorting, storing and retrieving books from a collection that fills almost 18 thousand containers.
The library has a special area where you can watch these robots in action. Definitely an inspirational place.
Bizzell Memorial Library – University of Oklahoma
Bizzell Memorial library houses a collection of almost 4.2 million books under its roof. But despite the vastness of its bookshelves and its long history, it’s not the most interesting or impressive thing about it. It is widely known for its association with the court case of George McLaurin about racial desegregation.
Beasley School of Law Library – Temple University
This Philadelphia library is one of the biggest national law libraries in the country. And this makes it special all on its own. It’s a sacred place for people who practice law and some of the most prominent law research centers are based around it.
If you are studying law and planning to make a career out of it – it’s definitely one of the places you should visit at least once in your lifetime. Even if you are not too fond of sightseeing – a lot of great organizations take root there.
Candler Library – Emory University
The Candler library has almost a century-old history. It was designed by Edward Tilton and quickly became one of the most important locations on campus. But it didn’t cling to its past and got an amazing remodel in 2003. That remodel aimed to make it an example of the implementation of eco-friendly technology into architecture. And they very much succeeded at that.
Doheny Library – University of Southern California
Doheny Library opened in 1932 and remains a center of knowledge and culture to this very day. It houses numerous collections. One of its most interesting ones is the Asian collection that offers a wide selection of Korean, Chinese and Japanese original texts. These can be of great interest to both young linguists and veterans.
Libraries and Scholarships
We are witnessing a slow decline in the popularity of libraries in the age of technology. But their value as studying spaces is as great as ever. Even despite the rise of dedicated workspaces, they keep playing a major role in the lives of students all over the world.
Having a dedicated workspace can make a world of difference for your academic performance. A place devoid of distractions will help your focus, attention span and will help you transition into learning more much easier. You will definitely notice the difference in your productivity once you decide to ditch your dorm room for a quiet library desk.
This increase in learning capabilities can have huge long-term benefits. And we’re not just talking about grades. High academic performance can make you eligible for all sorts of scholarships. And these, in turn, can open tons of new opportunities to build your future life around. And this is why public libraries are so important for students that are forced to operate on a budget. This extra push can become the beginning of a long streak of successes.
So if you find yourself struggling with your assignments – consider visiting a library regularly. Perhaps a change of scenery is all you need to beat the odds and get your grades back on track.