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Life Hacks for Using the ISU Library

For new and experienced library users: learn how to get the most out of a visit to your library, including tips for finding the right librarian and ways to get in touch.

Make the most of your visit

Here are some things to think about--and to share with the librarian in advance of your meeting--to help you get the most out of your visit. These are also helpful points to consider including if you are reaching out to a librarian by email.

decorative imageWhat are you working on?

Knowing what type of project you are working on will help the librarian find and guide you to the most useful resources. Consider sharing:

  • What is your research about?
  • Is it for a class? If so, which one?
  • What will the final output be? A paper? A presentation? A prototype?decorative image
  • Is this a group project or one you will be working on alone?

What are the requirements?

It is extremely helpful for a librarian to know any requirements your project or sources must meet. Longer papers or bigger projects will likely pull from more sources than short papers or brief presentations. Consider sharing:

  • How many sources do you need? Did your instructor set a number? Do you need a fully comprehensive set of sources?
  • What types of sources do you need? (Books, peer-reviewed articles, and so on)
  • Do your sources need to be recent?
  • What citation style must you use to cite your sources?
  • Are there any other requirements your sources need to meet?

decorative imageWhat have you already done?

It's perfectly fine if you haven't started your research yet when you reach out to a librarian. Giving the librarian a quick description of any research you have already done for your current project will help them not suggest things you've already tried. Consider sharing:

  • Any search tools or databases, including Google/Google Scholar, you've already used for this project
  • Any keywords or other search terms you tried
  • Any other search strategies you've used

decorative imageWhen is your project due?

Knowing when your project is due or needs to be completed will help the librarian know what resources to suggest. If your project is due soon, for example, you may need to rely on resources you can get right now. If you have several weeks or months left, you may have time to request articles and books the ISU Library doesn't have using Interlibrary Loan. Consider sharing:

  • What date does your project need to be finished by?
  • Are there other important dates before that, such as the due date for a draft or annotated bibliography?

Have a question? ISU librarians are always available to help!
Read the guide to learn who to contact and how!