Campus Library is about more than books

The Campus Library Reading Room at dawn
The Campus Library Reading Room

Information on any subject has never been easier to access. By clicking just a few buttons on our phone or posing a question to a digital assistant, we can find the latest election results, research data for a class paper, learn about local events or find the best walking trails around campus, 24/7.

Siri and Alexa can be good sources, but they are limited in their ability to provide in-depth or meaningful responses. Where else can students preparing for a project or an exam turn to when they are stumped on a question?

The University of Washington Bothell/Cascadia College Campus Library, where librarians are available for online chats to dig deeper into a topic or search for even the most obscure information needed. Each librarian on campus has an area or subject of specialty, which saves time and allows for efficient and focused searches during business hours.

The library’s collections, equipment and spaces are also accessible resources students are encouraged to use for their class assignments and special projects.

Coursework collaborations

For Malaika Ashraf, a junior majoring in Community Psychology, meeting with a librarian was critical for a research paper for her Interdisciplinary Inquiry class. From a general theme of political speech, she honed her draft paper to one titled, “Interior design as political speech.” An intriguing topic, she noted, but not one with volumes of information immediately available.

So she turned to Chelsea Nesvig, global and policy studies librarian, who met with her several times. “We went back and forth on a variety of ideas, which was so helpful in identifying the final topic,” Ashraf said. “Together, we used a Google drive to communicate and collaborate, which in itself was a great resource.

“Without Chelsea, I don’t think I would have been able to define my very narrow focus on U.S. presidents and the rooms where they did their work,” she said. “With her help, I wrote both an informative and interesting paper on the psychology behind the pictures and furniture in the Oval Office and presidential study.”

Spaces and resources

Ashraf points to other library resources she has used, such as reserving study rooms. “I use the study room for quiet time to study by myself,” she said. “UW Bothell is very big on team projects so I’ve also booked the group study and media rooms to meet with classmates and rehearse our presentations. Having access to the space and the equipment is invaluable.”

One of her favorite spots in the library is the Life Skills collection near the computers on the first floor, or as Ashraf calls it, the “how to be an adult section.” The collection features books about living away from home for the first time, healthy dependency, things to know in your 20s, cookbooks for a variety of cuisines and, especially important to Ashraf, sources that both affirm her beliefs and open her mind.

Dilara Kal, a sophomore in the Interactive Media Design program and a student assistant in the library, gravitates toward the Graphic Novels collection, currently on the third floor but soon moving to the first floor.

A fan of the Powerpuff Girls when she was growing up, she says the vibe of the section, filled with manga or Japanese graphic novels, attracted her. “I love anime and spent a lot of time in the manga section over the summer,” Kal said. “I think people would be surprised to know that we carry a lot of popular titles in the graphic novel genre.”

Saving money

Kal says she values having access to these novels, noting that it is a free benefit for students, staff, faculty and the community. “It’s an affordable way to learn about something you’re a little bit interested in and to find out more about it. You can develop a real passion for these novels before you decide to invest in your own collection.”

The library offers other ways to save money on both textbooks and technology.

Course Reserves: The library stocks many textbooks and other course materials students can check out for periods ranging from two hours to three days.

Technology Resources: UW Bothell students can borrow laptops for up to seven days. The library also has nearly 100 computer workstations that provide access to databases and online resources licensed by the UW Libraries, Microsoft Office software, email and internet access. Additionally, there is a computing help desk on the first floor that is staffed by students who offer a variety of technology-related services.

Computer bays that include a monitor, desktop computer, keyboard and mouse in the library

For class projects that require advanced equipment, librarians may refer students to UW Bothell Information Technology, which offers equipment such as cameras, microphones and lighting kits for checkout up to one week.

example of video games available for check out at the library

Video Games: Not only are Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo games available for checkout at the library, but students also have access to more than 100,000 games, films, music and other media through the UW’s Media Center. For those who want to do more than take a break to play, the library has rich archives including the history of the gaming industry and information about preservation initiatives.

Just do it: ask

Ashraf’s appreciation for the help she received for her research writing course led her to helping other students. Having previously worked in the Career Services office, she is now a student assistant in the library.

One of the things she says she most enjoys is interacting with students who are parents of young children. “UW Bothell has a diverse student population, and many who are parents have come from places outside the United States,” Ashraf said. “I love helping them not only with our resources for English language learners but also with books they can check out for their kids.”

She also recently staffed a table about library resources during a campus activities fair. Students had a variety of questions about study rooms, technology resources and different collections for academic and recreational reading. Much of the advice she shared came from her own experience.

“The best answers come from conversation,” she said. “Just ask a librarian.”

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