January 25, 2013
by library

The Hardest Part of Research

Getting Started

In the fall, we asked you to tell us what the hardest part of research is for you.  For many of you, it’s getting started (“knowing where to begin,” “starting it,” “the beginning”).  If part of the difficulty is that you know very little about your topic, check out CredoReference.  This great database contains encyclopedia, dictionary, and handbook articles on many topics.  These should give you an overview of your topic and some ideas on how to break it down.  You can find CredoReference in the Databases A-Z list on the library’s homepage.


Avoiding Distractions

Individual Study Room

Individual Study Room

If you are easily distracted (for example, this person: “Continuing to stay interested when there are shiny objects and funny noises in the same room as you because suddenly tinkling glasses and butterflies and candy and”), consider one of the library’s individual study rooms.  These locked rooms have desk space and outlets.  They are a great place to hide away from many of life’s distractions and get some work done.

Locating Information

Many of you also mentioned struggling with locating information.  This is definitely an area that librarians can help!  If you have a hard time with “looking for articles” or “navigating research terms to find the best results,” you should check out our Basic Databases Workshops:

  • January 29 (Tuesday): 11:30am to 12:20
  • February 4 (Monday): 5:30pm to 6:20

Workshop Description: Need to find articles for a paper? Can’t remember how to use the library databases? This workshop offers an introduction to online database searching strategies to help you find the resources you need.

Evaluating your Sources

For those of you struggling with “Being critical about your sources/citations” and “Sorting the wheat from the chaff,” consider attending our Evaluating Resources Workshops:

  • February 12 (Tuesday): 11:30am to 12:20
  • February 25 (Monday): 2:00pm to 2:50

Workshop Description: Not sure if you are selecting the best resources for your assignment?  Attend this workshop to learn more about how to evaluate the resources you find – books, journals, websites, and everything else.

Organizing your Sources

At least one of you mentioned that “keeping everything organized” was a frustration.  There are many ways to organize your research.  If you are interested in some tech tools that can help you, you may want to learn more about Mendeley or Zotero at our workshops:

  • Zotero
    • February 5 (Tuesday): 11:30am to 12:20
    • February 6 (Wednesday): 5:15pm to 6:05
  • Mendeley
    • February 14 (Thursday): 11:30am to 12:20
    • February 19 (Tuesday): 5:15pm to 6:05

Workshop Description: Working on research and have PDFs saved all over the place?  Do you keep misplacing the articles you’ve found?  There’s an easier way to keep track!  Attend these workshops to learn more about Mendeley and/or Zotero, tools that you can use both to keep all your research in one location and to create citations.

Unable to attend a library workshop or want individual assistance? Ask a librarian!


PaceCenter5Avoiding procrastination is another tricky area (“turning on self-control,” “calculating how long you can procrastinate until the situation becomes desperate,” “ignoring the cat”).  The PACE Center offers some workshops on procrastination and time management that you may find useful:

  • Friday, January 25: Time Management in College, 11:30am, Chatham Eastside: Main Conference Room
  • Wednesday, January 30: Time Management in College, 11:30am, Davis Room: JKM Library
  • Friday, February 22: Procrastination, 11:30am, Davis Room: JKM Library
  • Monday, February 25: Procrastination, 11:30am, Chatham Eastside: Main Conference Room

 Writing the Paper

The PACE Center also provides writing help for those of you who struggle with “writing up the paper” and “editing.”


January 24, 2013
by library

Your Favorite Books

In the Fall, we asked what your favorite books are and got a lot of answers!

IMG_3786After looking through the list, we noticed that the JKM Library actually has quite a few of these.  Here is the complete list of your favorite books along with information about where they are located in the library:

Three Votes

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Glass Castle2nd Floor: 362.82 W244G
  • Harry PotterCurriculum Collection (3rd Floor):  823.914 R69

Two Votes

One Vote

Feel free to add more of your favorite books in the comments!

March 26, 2012
by library

Student Question: X-Ray Gates

We called the makers of the security gate we have at the entrance to the library.  Our gate is of the electromagnetic variety (they make other types of gates, too).  It’s basically a metal detector that is set up to detect a very specific frequency of metal.  There are some pretty good explanations on the web for how metal detectors work, if you’re curious.  If you have additional questions or concerns, please let us know.

March 23, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: More DVDs

Photo by Collin Harvey

Once again, budgetary constraints limit what we can purchase.  And some of the educational DVDs can actually cost us anywhere from $100-$500 (for one DVD!).  Unbelievable, right?  This is because some DVD distributors require libraries to buy a DVD with a special license that allows that DVD to be shown to many people.

We have received a number of requests to look into more popular films because of the film program here.  We are currently looking at the American Film Institute’s Top 100 list.

Lastly, if you have any DVDs you’d like to donate, we’re always happy to accept them!

March 22, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Bathroom on the First Floor

Photo by Mark Hammond

The only bathrooms in the library are in the basement and on the 3rd floor.  We know it’s frustrating, but that’s just the way the library was built.  We have found that in nicer weather, the bathroom in Eddy is closer if you’re on the main floor of the library.

As for a bathroom after hours, we know it can feel unsafe to leave the building in the middle of the night.  Café Rachel is open until 2am on Friday and midnight on Saturday.  Other than that, Woodland is accessible using your student ID.

So, as much as we’re sure you aren’t eager to hear this, we don’t have plans to add any bathrooms in the foreseeable future.

March 21, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Author Visits

Photo by Beautiful Faces of Palestine

While author visits would be cool, they do take planning, and a lot of time, something we librarians are short on.  However, if you know a group that would like to organize an author visit, we’d be happy to provide the space for it.  There are also many other programs on campus that bring authors in to speak.

March 20, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Consistently Functional Printers

Photo by Michael Cote

We know the printers can be extremely frustrating – they drive us crazy, too!  However, we’re not sure printers that work really well with such high usage actually exist – we’d love to meet such a mythical beast.  Ultimately, the library is not responsible for the printers and plays no role in the decisions surrounding them – they are provided by IKON and maintained by both IKON and the IT Help Desk.  If you do encounter problems with the printers, please call the IT Help Desk at x1112 using the phone in the back of the large lab, and they will be happy to come over and fix them.

March 19, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: More Books, Especially Fun Ones!

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

Books are wonderful things, and we’d love to buy them all!  However, budget constraints and shelf space keep us in check. If you think we are lacking books related to an academic discipline or particular topic, please let us know, and we’ll look into it.

As far as fun books go, as a university library our primary mission is to support the curriculum, therefore the bulk of our budget goes toward purchasing materials for that purpose.  We do purchase a fair amount of literature, but we cannot purchase as much as a public library.  Speaking of which, you should check out your public library!  The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has an enormous selection of books (and audiobooks!), and the Squirrel Hill branch is less than a mile from campus.  You have to be a resident of Allegheny County to get a card – living on campus counts.  Otherwise, check out the public library nearest your home.  We also have a Carnegie Library information sheet available at the reference desk if you’d like more information about how to go about getting a card.

We do still have a variety of fun books to read here.  We have a popular reading display that you’ll notice to your right as you walk into the library building.  Those books rotate as they get checked out.  You might also try checking out some of the books in the 810-819 range on the 3rd floor – that’s where you’ll find the American fiction, humor (think David Sedaris), and poetry books, as well as plays.  The rest of the 800s contain literature from other cultures.

March 16, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Open the Room that Houses the Brown Collection

Since most of the books in the Brown Collection are first editions and signed by the author, they are rare and valuable.  Therefore, the room cannot be left open.  The collection is considered part of Special Collections, so if you would like to view any books in the room, you will need to make an appointment with a librarian.  If there is a book in the Brown Collection that you would like to read, you’ll need to order it through E-ZBorrow or get it from the public library.  Books ordered through E-ZBorrow should arrive here in 2-5 business days!

March 15, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Vending Machines and Food in the Library

Photo by Wayne Wilkinson

We have explored the possibility of a vending machine in the library in the past but when Café Rachel opened, the requests dropped.  We can explore this idea again.

However, you are allowed to bring snacks and drinks into the library, so please feel free to stop by Café Rachel or one of the vending machines in Falk or downstairs in Buhl on your way here!

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