Students often ask why they cannot simply go down to their local library to work on their research papers. The standard answer to this question is “sure you can so long as it’s an academic library!” According to the American Library Association, an academic library serves “colleges and universities, their students, staff and faculty. ” The difference between an academic library and a traditional public one is the type of information you have access to.
Colleges and universities pay large amounts to house current journal articles in a variety of fields of study. If you were to buy each article you needed at cost this would come to a great expense to you as an individual student. However, because colleges and universities are centers of knowledge they are able to negotiate general usage for all those affiliated with the school.
Journal articles are typically published in academic publications about a certain field. These are the types of articles you find in JSTOR and EBSCO Host. (By clicking on the links you’ll find that both of these sites are password protected. You’ll need to log into
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. This library holds some of the oldest books and papers in the world. As an undergraduate you may not need a library that fancy, but you may need an article that your own campus library doesn’t have. No worries! Ask the reference librarian to show you how to request a copy from another school. Many colleges and universities have agreements with each other to share information. You will need to ask well in advance for this service because it can take several days for someone to process your request, copy the material you need, and then send it to your home library.
Using the academic library is one of the privileges of being a college student. The wealth of information these facilities hold can help any student work through a difficult paper, or discover an idea he or she never imagined. You only have four years to use them without extra charges. Use your time wisely.