PSNK Librarians Detail Underutilized Services and Resources

By Alexandra Smith

UPPER BURRELL, Pa.—According to Penn State New Kensington librarians, many students may be underutilizing the resources and services the library offers such as the ability to check out laptops and use the new quiet study lounge.

Penn State New Kensington’s Elizabeth S. Blissell Library contains a wide variety of books, textbooks, CDs, and DVDs. The campus librarians also offer students assistance with research projects.

Head Librarian Jennifer Gilley said that she is always available to help students with all aspects of the research process. “People are usually sitting at the computer, and they come and ask us for help,” Gilley said. “You can also schedule an appointment with one of the librarians, or ask for help at the desk. We help with doing research and also citing research. We’re pretty comprehensive.”

Library Assistant Yesenia Figueroa-Lifschitz said that students are often unaware that they can check out books from other Penn State campuses. “I think students are surprised at the sheer number of books they can check out,” said Figueroa-Lifschitz. “Many just don’t know how many books are actually available.”

According to Gilley, the library offers more than just books for students to check out. “We have CDs and DVDs,” said Gilley. “Other campuses also have DVDs and music, so you can check that type of stuff out in addition to books or journals. There’s a ton of different kinds of things you can check out.”

Gilley also said that students can check out textbooks and use them in the library. “We try to work with the faculty to get the textbooks that are required for your courses and put them on reserve so that there will be one or two copies that all the class members can share,” said Gilley. “Not all of the faculty has told us what books they assigned, so we don’t have all of the books for every class, but a lot of them. We try to get the really expensive ones like the business ones and chemistry.”

Reference Librarian Amy Rustic said that Penn State New Kensington students have access to all of the books, CDs, and DVDs available in the Penn State library network. “It’s a really great resource,” said Rustic. “There are even some language learning tools students can check out. Different campuses have different CDs of language learning and things like that. Everybody has access to the same amount of books, DVDs, and CDs.”

Rustic said that students may not know that they can check out laptops and use the new quiet study lounge below the library. “We check out laptops, and those go out for a week,” said Rustic. “It’s a really great resource for students who need to write off-campus or don’t have access to a computer at home.”

According to Rustic, the most underutilized resource in the library isn’t the laptops or collection of books, CDs, and DVDs. “I think it’s the librarians, to be honest,” said Rustic. “I think students maybe don’t know all the services the library has to offer, and Jennifer and myself are trained to help students with their research. Our job is to be helpful and help people with research. If students see us around, they should ask for help.”

Gilley said that she wishes more students would take advantage of the services and resources offered by the library. “It’s challenging to let people know what we have to offer and get them to use it,” Gilley said. “A lot of people do use the library, but there are a lot of people who don’t. It’s sort of the perpetual challenge for librarians to get people to come in and use the services we have.”

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