Guest Author - Elizabeth Stuttard
One of the important study skills you need in order to do well in your distance learning or any type of learning is making good use of your library. You may have several libraries available to use. There may be a municipal library for your city or town, a local college or university library, and the library for the school from which you are taking your distance learning course. If the school from which you are taking your course is quite a distance away from you, then you will need to access the library materials using the online services. If there is a local college or university library but you are not a student there, you may be able to use their library but you will not be able to borrow books from the library. You will have to use them only in the library. Your local municipal library may not have many academic books and periodicals available for your use. However, all of these options are better than having no library available. The most important factor is that you learn how to make the very best use of whatever libraries are accessible.
The best thing you can do is to go into the library and ask the library staff how the system works in that library as well as asking where to find the materials from the library shelves that you will need for your subject. They may have special collections that are available that you won’t find on the regular shelves. Also there may be information available on microfilm which they can direct you to. Some books that you may be interested in may not be on hand in the library you are in, but may be obtainable by interlibrary loan. After getting this information first hand from the library staff, you can spend some time getting to know your way around the library well. There will probably be online resources available as well, and once again it will be to your benefit to ask for assistance from the staff. It can save you much time down the road if you get this assistance from the experts who know how to quickly access the types of materials you require. Online articles are not always reliable but librarians will direct you to the reliable sources of information on the web. Some of the databases that are accessible only through your library may be available to you from home as well by using your library card and a special password. That can be true of your local library but is also the way that you can access books and databases from your distance learning school. In that case the information about access is usually available online through your course information, but if necessary, you should make sure you contact the school library by e-mail or by phone to ask any questions you have. Knowing how to use your library is one of the most important skills you need to develop in order to complete the research required for essays and other course projects. Therefore you should make sure that you learn how best to find books and other materials that are available in your library and that you also learn how best to use that library’s and your school library’s online resources. Whenever necessary, ask the library staff for help. They are always more than willing to help and can save you much time trying to find reliable information on your own.