The library is a verb

“The library is a verb”

Message from Ms. Yayeri Nalumansi, MBA Class of 2020 through her internship experience with ProQuest and MLIC library, International University of Japan

Over time, the meaning of the library has shifted from it being a building that provides a quiet place to read, to providing services for people. Nowadays, the significance of the library cannot simply be contained in a building. As an institution, it is more than just a structure and the books it holds. It provides a myriad of information, access to ideas and perspectives and most importantly, builds communities. We can all agree that our first interaction with the concept of the library began with visits to local libraries in our communities. It was here that we met people from different walks of life with a common resolve – a hunger for knowledge. We had library cards and with every book borrowed, our minds expanded to imagine a world of possibilities. With every book, encyclopedia, magazine, or newspaper that was read, we gained a more literate community. It can therefore be said that libraries change lives by creating a consciousness of the world we live in, and arming us with information.

Initially, the focus of the library was to provide the right book, for the right people, at the right time. Using referencing, librarians helped library users to find the information that they need. They would direct to the right isle, and show you a selection of books relevant to what you were looking for. In the 21stcentury, libraries offer these services and so much more. The most significant advancement of the library to date has been access and inclusiveness. Computers and handheld devices have enabled the library to provide online tools to users such as e-books and databases. These provide users with the ability to use the library remotely 24/7. The inclusiveness of the library holds the premise that “everyone is welcome to the library and there is something for everyone inside.” From information on life-hacks, to world news to book clubs, and many more, the library has positioned itself to cater to the various needs of users.

For graduate students, the library is commonly used to advance learning and research goals. However, this process can be tedious without the right knowledge and tools at your fingertips. To save time and research efficiently, it is important to know where and how to access the information you’re looking for. To address the what, when, and how questions for using information effectively, students must possess a skill set known as information literacy. Information literacy helps you to navigate through information overload in the following ways:
• It helps you to identify relevant content, assess the reliability of a source, and respect intellectual property (by crediting sources through referencing).
• Since information exits in various forms and methods of delivery, with information literacy, you’ll be able to filter through sources and select one(s) that are applicable to your information needs.
• It helps you evaluate information to determine if it is relevant. Through this, you’re able to process, organize and synthesize information
• It helps you identify new information or perspective on a specific subject matter or field. This is particularly important in academic research as it helps you identify scholars with published material on your topic of interest.
• Lastly, conducting research requires the application of an effective strategy. By using the right key words and search tools, you save time and avoid working through a myriad of information to get to what you want.

In the digital age, information literacy is crucial when looking for information online.

So how is this applicable to academic research?

They say “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.”

As a student, the natural inclination is to google first. After all, “Google is your friend” for any information you can imagine under the sun. However, paywalls, relevance and source credibility are some of the challenges encountered with this route. When conducting academic research, a shift in mindset is required. By actively participating in MLIC initiatives to enhance your knowledge about the library, you hone your research skills. You spend less time in the computer labs frantically searching for data for your first draft.

The on-campus ProQuest workshops provide a way to handle information in the library. I experienced a dynamic shift from “knowledge is power” to “the right knowledge is your source of power.” When conducting research, finding what you need can be challenging. This is due to the large number of information that libraries store or provide access to that you need to sort through. With the evolution of the library catalyzed by the digital age, accessing digital content has become free and easy, especially when using e-resources and databases. They provide students with books, journals, scholarly papers, articles, and primary sources. Content obtained from these databases is compiled by credible authors and researchers. The biggest advantage is that this information cannot be found on the internet. This makes the content accurate and reliable. All this is freely available from the university library with a couple of clicks. The library should therefore be your one-stop shop for all your research activities.

Post-graduation, information fluency becomes important to career advancement. This is because the use of information and data to solve business issues requires a more efficient approach which results in meaningful findings. Therefore, the information literacy skills obtained from using the library become a lifetime skillset.

It is clear that the library is always part of our lives, from childhood, to school life and even after we close the academic chapter. Public libraries, school libraries and academic libraries are institutions that are a constant in our lives. However, the way we use libraries morphs from beginner, to student, to researcher. With this progression, libraries have become ubiquitous and adapted to the digital age – making them easily accessible. Their existence for over 2700 years means that they are still relevant and continue to be a valuable resource.