Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look in catalogues, and [indexes] of books in libraries. Boswell’s Life of Johnson
Walking into this building must seem to many of you something of an anachronism, something out of place in its historical occurrence. Libraries, as physical places, are often thought of as something démodé, something out of fashion like landlines instead of iPhones. We hope to disabuse you of this notion that libraries are out of fashion, and here’s why.
Libraries are still fundamentally integral to your work here in the academy. Perhaps in twenty years, that will no longer be the case. But the Internet as a source for the kinds of research you’ll be doing while here at the university is, while not useless, at the very least unhelpful. That’s because the research you need to do must draw on those who are not writing out their opinions, but attempting to ascertain the truth of a matter as closely as it can be uncovered by the collective wisdom of other scholars.
At Dacus, we teach you about our more than 100 databases, tens of thousands of articles, hundreds of thousands of electronic books and, yes, even print books. Dacus hold over 450,000 print books, not because we are a quaint little place, but because most of that material is not available anywhere else but in print form, at least for now.
So let us help you ferret your way down this long and winding road known as research. It doesn’t have to be something that terrifies you, or causes you heartburn. Samuel Johnson, quoted above, sums up the two kinds of people you’ll find ready to help you with your studies. Those who know the thing itself are your professors. Those who know where to find it are your library professors.
We do that in the classes we teach about how to do research. We help with that by being at the Information Commons desk while you’re here in the building or while you’re chatting with us online. And we do that though our Book-a-Librarian, a program where you can ask for your own private librarian to guide you through the brambles of research.
So, don’t be a stranger. The research is clear: those students who spend more time in the library working (not playing games or looking for dates, mind you), are much more successful than those who do not spend time in this building.