opinion

COLUMN: Take advantage of IU’s libraries



When you think of Wells Library, you probably think of a large, Triscuit-shaped building where at least one — if not several — nights of your college career have been spent cramming for an exam or hammering out an essay due the next morning. 

Because of the impressions students tend to have of libraries as boring places where they're forced to be productive, libraries and the wonderful services they provide are seriously underrated. 

Wells, for example, is a world-class library that houses more than 4.6 million volumes of print and digital books, all of which are at your disposal. And with interlibrary loan, texts located elsewhere can be shipped to Bloomington free of charge.

Wells is also home to the Learning Commons, where students can receive help with their writing from Writing Tutorial Services or guidance on research projects from Learning Commons Research Assistants. 

In addition to Wells, there is the William and Gayle Cook Music Library, the Kinsey Institute Library and others to create a truly impressive network of campus libraries that you probably aren’t but definitely should be taking advantage of.

My favorite is the Lilly Library, which stores IU’s rare books, manuscripts and special collections. There is something magical to me about the fact that I, a random 21-year-old college student, have the privilege of personally handling the manuscripts of canonical authors such as Walt Whitman or Marcel Proust.

I realize that my English major is showing, but considering the range and depth of our libraries’ resources, it’s worth your time to better inform yourself about what is available to you.

Even if you don’t have plans to check out 40 books at once for a senior thesis — even if you don’t like to read — IU's libraries offer extensive video streaming services for academic and entertainment purposes as well as technological coaching from the UITS Technology Center Consulting on programs available through IU AnyWare. 

From ordinary library books to rare manuscripts, IU’s outstanding resources and staff are ranked 14th among member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries, a non-profit organization comprised of 125 libraries in the U.S. and Canada. 

We should be grateful to attend an institution with such wonderful libraries, and I urge you to give them your attention. 

College tuition is an exorbitant expense that has only continued to increase since we enrolled. The average student attending a university in Indiana will take on almost $30,000 in debt by the time they graduate, and nationwide student debt has now surpassed credit card debt. 

In light of this, we should pay a little more attention to what this university provides so that we don’t miss out on valuable, and frankly expensive, opportunities. 

We only have four years to get our money’s worth, which means it’s time to stop sleeping on these incredible libraries and start making the most of all they have to offer.

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