By Samantha Sundquist, a.k.a. the Librarian who Looks Like a Student

When I was in college I found that the library evoked either one of two things: dread or anxiety. The quintessential library at my university was packed with students, staff, and books, but always quiet, quiet, quiet. You didn’t walk into the library unless you had some group work to complete, research to conduct, or a serious long-term studying/ paper writing session. For decades, that’s how libraries have been used and remained viewed; until now.

The Library at Robert Morris University’s Chicago campus has been perfectly described by staff as, “the heart of campus”. Both resident and commuter students find themselves at the library when they’re looking for a nice place to hang with friends, eat the food they just grabbed down the street, take a nap in our armchairs alongside the windows, or just watch some videos on YouTube. We are grateful for the students that we see in our library every day, and I’d like to make sure that the students whose names and faces we know, as well as students who never stop by the 7th floor are made aware of some other wonderful things your library can provide for you.

Here are 5 things you may not know about the library:

1) The library is staffed with at least one Librarian between the hours of 7:00 am and 4:30 pm Monday-Thursday. We have earned fancy Master’s degrees of Library and Information Science that provided us with the knowledge to choose the best books, to help you find answers using electronic databases, to troubleshoot software and hardware problems, to help with citations, and to just chat with you because we’re cool Librarians. We are your best resource!

2) We have five private study rooms, one of which has a Mac desktop, and three others have the same HP desktops that are found throughout the library. These study rooms can be reserved ahead of time for two-hour increments. They’re perfect for recording videos, taking video interview calls, studying as a group, or even just mentally recharging in-between classes. We also have set up two stress-free zones; tables with blank coloring sheets and colored pencils to draw away your stresses as needed. I love putting completed sheets on our bulletin board to show off your talent.

3) We have the power to get you books, CD’s, audiobooks, and DVD’s from other universities for FREE. The Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) is comprised of 128 schools or libraries that have agreed to lend and borrow items from each other for free. The best part is, you can order any item from home at 2:00 am when you’re staying up late bingeing that latest Netflix addiction (have you seen the Haunting of Hill House?!). The items take only a few days to get to RMU, and once you get the email that your item has come in, it can be picked up right at the circulation desk. Be sure to ask one of us cool Librarians or our helpful student workers to show you how.

4) Our newest books are always set-up on top of the long bookshelves near the windows to the left and right of the library entrance. These books are a mixture of NYT bestsellers (we try to buy all of them, so don’t buy that hot new book off Amazon, let us know you’d like it reserved for you when we get it in), staff or student requests (yes, we take requests for purchases!), and books that we just think you’d really like to read. In addition to many traditional fiction and non-fiction genres, we have a wide selection of culinary books and graphic novels. Ask, and we can point you to the proper shelves for browsing books of any genre of your choice.

5) The library is a great meeting place for clubs, classes, study halls, and of course, researching. We understand that the time spent in-between classes is often longer than being in classes themselves. The library is fun, well-lit, stocked with computers, tables, and plenty of comfy seating, and therefore the preferred spot to be when not in class. We welcome your freedom to use our space as you see fit, as long as things are kept at normal talking level, food wrappers are thrown away after use, unwanted papers picked up and recycled with us (just ask us to recycle them behind the desk), and music or videos played don’t play louder than is needed for you to actually hear it. Basically, we want you to use and love our space, but we want others to use and love our space too. By being the polite, accommodating adults we know you all are, the library can continue to be a fun, pleasant, vibrant place for all our students.

Next time you are in the library, keep an eye out for a few other things that I’d like to institute: monthly book displays, a book club, library-specific social media accounts, and minute surveys to help us help you. The library may be the heart of campus, but all of you are the brain. We love what we do because we love working with and for you. Myself, my fellow Librarians, and our student workers look forward to the next time you walk up to our desk for some help, or even just to chat.

“When in doubt, go the library” – J.K. Rowling’s Hermione Granger