“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” — Albert Einstein
Libraries are, in addition to being sanctuaries for book lovers, hugely important centers of community and support. The range of borrowable materials at many libraries has grown from books and movies to include video games, home repair tools and video equipment; and a wide variety of classes and workshops are often held on-site. Our local libraries, the MSU Main Library and the East Lansing Public Library, offer all of these resources and more.
You may already be familiar with the MSU Main Library as a great study spot and the home of the only 24-hour Sparty’s. But even if you’ve used the printers or visited the Special Collections, that’s only the tip of the iceberg! The library also houses a number of Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative services, such as a Social Science help room and a branch of the Writing Center. And, although those resources are also available elsewhere on campus, there are a number of library-exclusive services, such as the Hollander MakeCentral: Makerspace.
The name says it all — this is where students, faculty and community members can come to make anything from 3D models to buttons to laser-cut designs. A monthly knitting circle has recently started meeting in the Makerspace, which offers a friendly and welcoming place to learn or practice your craft. This semester, the knitting circle is putting together a quilt that will be donated to the family of someone undergoing cancer treatment. Another resource housed at the library is Publishing Services, where you can design a book from cover to cover and print out e-books, dissertations and notebooks. So there’s a lot more you can do in the library besides study!
If you’re looking for resources but the MSU Main Library is too crowded with students for your tastes, there’s always the East Lansing Public Library. Many similar services are available at ELPL, but as it’s less academic, it’s also a great place to browse for literature. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for on the shelves, there are other options. “The Friend Shop has some of the cheapest used books in town. And I wish more people knew about Interlibrary Loan and MeLCat, where you can request any book you want and get it in one or two weeks,” said Kit Breedlove, a recent MSU grad who has lived across the street from ELPL since 2006. He estimates he buys about four books a month from the Friend Shop, where materials are donated by patrons and sold to benefit the library. ELPL also boasts an impressive array of classes and events, a tool library and its own Maker Studio.
At this point, you must be clamoring to know how you can get a library card and start taking advantage of all these opportunities. Well, if you’re an MSU student, your ID gets you full access to everything the Main Library has to offer. It also makes you eligible to apply for an ELPL card, even if you don’t live in the area full-time. If you’re a community member, you’re able to apply for cards at both places. So get out there, and get into your local library!
Bridget Hanchek is a senior from Portland, Oregon studying professional writing and Japanese. She enjoys reading, cooking, and eating, often all at once. She spends way too much time at the library. Follow her on Twitter @behanchek.