Get to know the Library

Everyone in second year and above likes to think they have a map of campus in their heads and know everything there is to know - but the truth is, we were all Just Another First Year at one point as well, and we are definitely still learning. There were things I didn’t know (everything), things I wish I knew (everything), and things I definitely needed to know (... everything). Luckily I had help, and can pass that knowledge on to you new and future Sara Nyhuis

Unfortunately I can’t provide you with an in-depth guide of where to and not to eat, the best spots to nap, that one carpark that’s always free or the answers to all your tests. I can, however, provide you with information that is just as valuable as all that.

The library how-to guide.

Shake off any notions of the library being ‘uncool’, because you are about to find yourself there far more than you realise. When you’re at university, the library is exactly where you want to be - it has all the answers to all your questions (except the answers to tests), quiet places to escape the manic bustle of the first few weeks of semester (be prepared to fight for it), and honestly - it’s actually super valuable.

Which library is where?

All the libraries are different on each campus, with the smaller campuses like Berwick, Peninsula and Pharmacy having smaller libraries mostly focusing on nursing and teaching or pharmaceuticals. Clayton has three (because the more the merrier), and each one specialises - there is the Law library (pretty self-explanatory), Hargrave Andrew Library (science, technology, engineering, medicine), and Matheson Library (arts and humanities). Caulfield library is the busiest during exams, so you have to get in early to grab a seat before the rest of the vultures flock to it, but it has a large focus on art theory and literature books. 

Get to know your library

I strongly suggest doing a library tour during O Week. I was lucky enough to already be familiar with the Matheson Library when I started at Monash, but the amount of friends I still have in my final year that don’t know how to borrow books is astonishing. An O Week tour will tell you all the basic things you need to know such as opening hours for that library; where the group, quiet and private study spaces are; how to find books; how to borrow them; how to print (which is so confusing and so very, very important) and where to find your friendly library staff to ask any further questions you might have. The tours are usually run by current student volunteers who understand the library in a way that the staff behind the desk don’t, because for students it is as much a social space as it is a place for study.

Your online library

You don’t have to be physically in the library to use it to its full potential either, with most of the study resources accessible online. The most important aspect of the online library that I seriously encourage you all to get familiar with is the library guides. They’re currently working on creating a guide for each unit, and when they’re all up these things are going to be your saving grace come survival week. I’m talking cloud-parting, ray of sunshine, angels singing type of thing. Right now these guides have reading lists, related databases, external websites, your go-to subject librarian, information on assignments and referencing guidelines.
See? Angels singing. 

Make the most of it

While you’re doing the tour, you might as well do a class, too. You can access the class booking system through the library homepage to see which classes are being run and when. If you only take one library class in all your years at uni, take the Search class. This class will teach you how to use Search to navigate the labyrinth that is the library catalogue for books, journals, and multimedia specifically related to what you’re researching. I recommend it because while Google seems like the fountain of knowledge for all your questions, but when it comes to researching academic sources, it’s definitely not credible.

So now that you’re a library master…

Talking about your own experience can be really helpful to others who are unsure of how to tackle O Week and their first week of university. We encourage you to get involved and discuss if and how you used the library when you first started, and how you use it now. 

Sara Nyhuis is a Monash student who works as part-time casual staff in the Library.

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