At first, your university’s library may look like an intimidating place with never-ending rows of shelves packed with a wealth of information.

Man looking at a shelf of books Photo by matthew Feeney on Unsplash

(Your second impression will probably be the North Pole-cold air conditioning, but you’ll get used to that. Brr.)

Academic libraries are great sources of information.

You should explore your academic library and take advantage of what you have at hand!

But they also encourage curiosity, problem-solving skills, innovation and several other skills that lie at the heart of a successful education and professional life!

What's An Academic Library?

You've been to your public library before. So you know how libraries work, right? Let's put it this way:

If this is your public library...

a simple puzzle

...this is your academic library.

a complex puzzle

Size is not the only difference! Public and academic libraries serve different needs, objectives, and groups of people. Also, they can offer widely different services.

That's why you need a roadmap of how to make the most out of your university library!

Attend The Library Orientation

First, you need to learn how to navigate through your library system and the services you can get.


Library orientations fulfill exactly these purposes. If you skip this initial tour, you might not be able to find out about the facilities and services available at the library until it's too late.

For example:

  • You can request an interlibrary loan if your library doesn't have a particular book.

  • There might be a separate subject library for your field in addition to the main library.

  • Your library might have arrangements with overseas libraries.

  • You can request scholarly resources via document delivery services.

  • You can borrow your text books from the library instead of purchasing them.

And probably many more services you can learn about in your library orientation!

Talk To Librarians

Librarians are amazing people who are always ready and willing to help students!

Librarian waving her hand

How can they help me?

Are you struggling with locating a book because of the Dewey Decimal Classification?

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Librarians will save you a lot of time by pointing you in the right direction!

Flaticon Icon Are you looking for a particular piece of information and don't know where to start?

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Librarians will be able to guide you towards a good place to start for your query!

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Don't forget:

  • Librarians don't just guard the books and shush you.

  • Librarians know the ins and outs of the library.

  • Librarians are trained professionals who are skilled in research.

Use All Resources

If you're only using your library to borrow print books, you're seriously missing out on so many great and free resources!

Online Journals

For any subject you can think of, your library probably has subscriptions to a host of academic journals. You can access these digital resources wherever you are!

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Multimedia Resources

These are such underutilized resources, but know that you have access to various audiovisual materials such as DVDs, audio recordings, and newspaper archives!

Flaticon Icon Audiovisual Equipment

Many libraries lend to students photography, videography, and design equipment such as cameras, boom microphones and tablets!

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Talk to your librarian or go to your library's website to learn more about these services!


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Chris needs to write a research paper for his history class. Sadly, all the print books he needs were already checked out by his classmates when he went to the library. He's very anxious and regrets not going to the library sooner.


Could you give him advice on what to do now?

Take Advantage Of Study Spaces

In addition to these resources covered so far, libraries are great places to study because:

  • There are way fewer distractions than you might have while working at home or dorm.

  • The resources you might need are right next to you.

a group of students working at the library

What are my options?

I need to focus and study.

Go to a quiet study space!

I need to talk to my classmates.

Book a group study space!

I need access to a computer.

Find one of the many workstations!

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Don't underestimate being able to work alone or in a group, uninterrupted by all sorts of distractions. It might make all the difference in that coming midterm!

Take Action

With all these amazing resources at hand, go out and explore your institution’s library!

You can start by:

Trust us, there's an entire galaxy in those buildings waiting to be discovered by you!

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