Books are for Use

Date: July 18, 2023

One of my primary jobs as User Services Librarian is to meet with students and faculty for research consultations. I try to listen carefully to their research questions and then I suggest ways they can enter the (inevitably) vast scholarly literature on their subject. My role is to help students and researchers find the “scholarly conversations” on their topic, think deeply and thoroughly about them, and finally to add their voice to the conversation.

The first law of librarianship is “books are for use.” In many of these meetings, I suggest that students should check out a wide range and large number of books. The books on our shelves are not meant to stay there, for mere preservation. They are to be used. Consulted. Read. Borrowed.

A general rule of thumb, when a research project is done well, is that only half of the books consulted end up in a bibliography. The rest are there for inspiration, serendipitous discovery, and scholarly dead ends. It is my hope that our users: students, faculty, staff, and alumni make plentiful use of the library’s vast collections for research, work, leisure, and to improve their thinking.

Vincent Williams, MAR, MPhil, MLIS
User Services Librarian
Bishop Payne Library

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