For Kansas University students such as Jill Mayhood, the libraries on campus provide a quiet sanctuary to focus on schoolwork.
Mayhood, a junior from Neodesha majoring in human biology, brings her laptop to one of the campus' two large libraries, Watson or Anschutz, logs onto the Internet using the wireless connection, and studies in peace for hours.
"It's especially nice during finals, because they open them up and we can study all night if we need to," Mayhood said.
In addition to a quiet place to study, the libraries offer students a wide variety of technological resources. Scott Walter, assistant dean for information and instructional services, said the libraries not only provide students with technology to use in their classes, but also teaches the students how to use that technology.
More than 18,000 faculty, students and staff received technology training last year by either attending a library-sponsored workshop or receiving the training as part of a class, Walter said. The workshops are popular with attendance having increased every year the past five years.
The workshops range from teaching about the Microsoft Word suite to software for building and designing Web pages to complex data analysis and statistical programs.
"We're not the IT help desk," Walter said. "We can't wipe a virus off you're computer, but if you want to learn how to use PowerPoint to do your presentation for class we're going to help you learn how to use it."
The amount of technology available at the libraries can be somewhat overwhelming for new students, Walter said.
"With the amount of information we make available online, this is not your high school or public library," he said. "We're talking about tens of thousands of online journals and hundreds on online databases."
The important thing to remember for incoming students is that there are plenty of ways to learn how to use the technology. By attending a workshop or even getting some one-on-one training, students can receive help from the library.
"It's important for students to know this technology is here to help you do your work, to help you be successful in your studies," Walter said. "But we're not just dropping you in the ocean and saying sink or swim. There are regularly scheduled opportunities for you to learn how to do this more effectively."
For Suzanne Accurso, a freshman from Lee's Summit, Mo., Watson Library was daunting before she received some help.
"When I first came here my senior year of high school I was like 'Oh my gosh, what is that building? I hope I never have to go into it,'" Accurso said.
"But I went on a tour in my freshman English class and it helped a lot. When I come here with friends, I learn new areas of the library all the time."
Mayhood had a similar suggestion for incoming students.
"Take the tour," she said. "If you have to go look for books, it's really confusing with all the stacks. Just get really familiar."
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