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How-To: Use the Library for Final Papers and Exams

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Adjacent to the main Smith building, just to the left of Chatlos Chapel, lies a building that is filled with an abundant amount of knowledge and resources. This building is the Masland Library, a veritable paradise and at the same time the bane of many students’ existence. Some students have never stepped foot in the library aside from their Open House tour. Others frequent the library so often that they practically live there. But no matter what side of the spectrum you fall on, or if you’re somewhere in the middle, here are some important tips to help you utilize the library’s resources to the best of your ability for your upcoming papers and final exams.

  1. Librarians are your best friends.
  • Student workers and librarians are there to help you. They have the answers to many of the questions you have, and the head librarian and other full-time staff have an incredible amount of knowledge that will help you on your quest for resources. You can even set up a meeting one-on-one with the head librarian to help figure out how to use all the databases and find the resources that you need. Just email library@cairn.edu to set up an appointment.
  1. The databases rock.
  • The databases are sites which Masland Library has a contract with to use their services and resources. On this page, the databases can be sorted by subject, type and provider. Super helpful when you need resources for Old Testament class, social work classes, and more.
  1. Narrowing your search on Encore.
  • When you search the regular Encore database (what automatically comes up when you type in the search bar on the Masland Library home page), it can be pretty overwhelming. The best way to sift through the seemingly endless results is to use all of the tools on the left-hand side of the screen. You can narrow your search by type (book, journal, ebook, etc), date published, publisher, whether it’s in print or online, and more. These are very handy when you get a lot of resources for one search and need to get to what really applies to your paper.


Now that we’ve gone over some basic resources that can be accessed online, let’s talk about accessing material in the library. And, most importantly, library etiquette. If you’re doing work inside of the library and not just from your computer in your room, these are things that you’ll need to know.

  1. Call numbers are key. The call number is what tells you where the book is in the library. It usually looks somewhat like this: BS 480 .E57 2001. This is a library of congress system, so BS means Biblical Studies. The final number is the publishing date. So if you’re looking for something on modern technology and the last number is 1989, you’re going to want to keep looking. But aside from that, call numbers are important because without them, you can’t find the book you’re looking for. If you know what book you want, search the title on the library webpage, write down the call number and you’re good to go! If you’re not sure where in the library your book would be located, just bring the call number to the front desk. The workers and librarian can point you in the right direction!
  2. Put your books on the carts when you’re done with them: The library workers make it a point to walk through and pick up all the books you leave lying around when you’re done using them, but if you’re working at a side table or especially one of the secluded student desks, chances are the workers might accidentally miss them! You’re doing them a big favor when you drop them off on one of the many carts located around the library. Plus, it helps keep the library looking tidy and neat.
  3. Resist the study-stress snackage. This is probably the hardest tip/rule to follow, but it’s one of the most important. When you snack in the library, not only are you getting crumbs/sticky fingers everywhere, including on the books you’re handling, but you’re also inviting in a lot of insects. Plus, the risk of damaging a book by a spill is huge, and then you would have to pay to replace it. Just follow the rules and signs posted by the entrance and don’t snack in the library. If you’ve got the munchies hardcore, the commuter lounge is a good place to take a study break while you eat.


These are just some tips to using the library. For more, visit the library blog and check out all the past articles. Happy studying!


Secret tip:

Did you know? The library has movies! They’re located behind the front desk, available for check-out for three days at a time. Some of the options available include Downton Abbey, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Blade Runner, Pride and Prejudice, The Truman Show, and more! So if you need to unwind for a bit, feel free to let the worker at the desk know that you want to look at the movies, and pick one out!

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