Tours introduce freshmen to libraries

In order to familiarize students with the University’s massive library system, the Freshman Class Council is sponsoring a series of optional library tours for freshmen this week.

Lasting approximately 75 minutes each and led by University librarians, the tours are meant to introduce students to Sterling Memorial Library and Cross Campus Library and give an overview of resources available both in the libraries and online. FCC Issues Chair Zach Marks ’09, who has spearheaded the effort to revive the program — which was once part of freshman orientation — said the impetus for creating a library tour came in response to recommendations and concerns sent to the FCC by students.

“The Issues Committee sent out an e-mail to freshmen asking for recommendations,” Marks said. “One thing that students said was that the library was intimidating.”

Marks is a contributing reporter for the News.

Librarian Emily Horning, who guides some of the tours this week, said that because many students may feel overwhelmed by SML, she thinks the tours’ most significant purpose is to help Yalies feel more comfortable with the library.

“What we really want to do is help students overcome confusion and intimidation about SML,” Horning said. “We want students to know that there are people who can help them.”

Horning said she hopes that through these tours, students will be better able to capitalize on the libraries’ vast resources. Some of the resources that Horning highlights on her tours include the SML stacks, online databases, reading rooms and special collections. These are important tools for academic research, Horning said, which are too often dismissed because students either do not know how to use them or are unaware of their existence.

Anna Gorovoy ’09, who attended a library tour on Monday, said she thinks the tutorial will help her in the future. She said she had some difficulty finding a book in CCL at the beginning of the school year and had to turn to other resources.

“I was intimidated, so eventually I went to the bookstore,” Gorovoy said. “It was embarrassing that I didn’t know how to use the library. … I had no idea how to get into or use the stacks.”

Horning said students often avoid the SML stacks — which hold four million of Yale’s 11 million volumes — because they do not know how to begin searching for books. During one of her tours, Horning explained that at one time, the stacks were closed off to all but library staff, which she said explains why they may be intimidating to look through.

Eugene Ashton-Gonzalez ’07, who works as a technical assistant at SML, said that since Yalies have different preferences for performing research, the tours will not necessarily convert all students to become regular library-goers.

“It definitely might not be so helpful,” he said.

Ashton-Gonzalez said he thinks students and professors would benefit if they made greater use of the electronic classroom in the basement of CCL.

Marks said another reason he pushed for the library tours is that students who are less knowledgeable about the libraries’ resources — both on- and offline — may frequently conduct research using Internet search engines to find Web sites, which could contain erroneous information.

“Their library is Google,” Marks said.

Horning said she thinks that this year’s library tours are particularly effective because students are less likely to forget information about the libraries mid-semester than during freshman orientation week, which includes many other distracting programs and activities. Horning said the tours are also especially timely because of next year’s planned 18-month renovation of CCL, and she said the library staff hopes to establish regular freshman tours in the future.

While the program, which ends Friday, is intended for freshmen, all students are welcome to register through the Yale library website, Horning said.

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