Library Q&A

What skills can a student develop by becoming a better user of the Oakland Community College libraries?

"Knowledge is power,” and the library exemplifies that adage. Learning how to use the library enables the student to research scholarly information for class assignments.

Additionally, knowing how to find and use credible information is an important life skill. For example, if you need authoritative information for a presentation for work, not being able to find the best sources available can have serious negative implications. We arm students with the tools they need to be successful in their academic work and in their personal life.

What are some of the things the library provides that students either don’t know about or don’t think about using?

OCC recognizes students have different ways of learning. For visual learners, we have videos embedded in the library catalog. For audio learners, some of our databases allow the student to listen to an article; they can even download it to their MP3 player to listen to it repeatedly and in various accents (American, British and Australian). Several databases have a translate feature, allowing students to view the article in their native language or to practice another language.

We encourage students to come to the library to get one-on-one research help from a librarian. A professional librarian is on duty all hours the library is open. If they cannot come into the library physically, we encourage students to call us on the phone during library hours so we can help them find the material they need electronically.

In addition, students have 24/7 access to a librarian’s assistance through our live chat service, Ask a Librarian.

Our Library Research Guides help students access scholarly information on various subjects. Research Guides are collections of high-quality online and print sources for OCC courses, chosen by OCC librarians. It is a good place to start when initially starting your research.

Students can request that circulating material (books, DVDs) from another campus be sent to their home campus library. This process takes two to three business days. Additionally, if a student requests a specific article or book not in the OCC collection, OCC libraries will request it through Interlibrary Loan, which will take two to three weeks—with no charge to the student.

The Orchard Ridge campus library has a small government documents collection, some of which is accessible through our library catalog, and government and law/paralegal research guides.  Government documents are a rich source of reliable information that students can incorporate into their research papers.

Students may be able to access a copy of their textbook from the Library Reserve Collection for in-library use only. We don’t have all textbooks on reserve but do keep faculty-requested material on reserve. Items on reserve vary from campus to campus. Other examples include models - including some life-size anatomical models - microscopes, some CREST equipment, et cetera. All may also be available through the Reserve Collection.

What is the advantage of learning about the library’s services from a staff person vs. just going it alone and hoping you just stumble upon what you’re looking for?

It often surprises students to learn that librarians have their master’s degree in library and information science. We know how to find credible and scholarly material quickly and are happy to teach students how to find their information. We want students to be lifelong learners, and that starts with knowing how to use the library and its resources effectively.

Searching the stacks serendipitously is fine when you know the general call number of the subject you are searching, but to wander the stacks without a clear direction can prove fruitless and frustrating. Please come in and ask for help. That’s why we’re here!

How has the library changed over the past decade or so as far as resources and what students use it for?

Students continue to use the library to find credible scholarly material for assignments and personal use. Students have more access to information available in various formats than before. They can conduct their research using printed books, e-books and various databases. More students are working on group projects and scheduling to meet with fellow classmates in the library for group study.

I’m a new student. What should I do to make sure I’m making the most of the library’s resources?

Use the library homepage to access our online resources. Come into the library to use our physical space for study and resources for research.

Talk with a librarian in person, by phone or virtually. Ask us questions. We’re here to help.

Get a Raider One Card. It will serve as both your library card and copy card - simply add money.

Attend Library Success Seminars. This is a good way to better acclimate to library resources and strengthen your research skills.

What are the most asked questions from students?

How to find scholarly articles: Many people mistakenly think you can find “everything,” including scholarly articles, in Google. Students have to be careful that information found on the internet is reliable and suitable for academic use.

The best place to find scholarly articles is through our databases. OCC students have access to over 50 databases on various subjects. Students can access these databases off-campus by logging in with the same username and password they use to register for classes.

How to cite sources to avoid plagiarism: Instructors may require different citation styles for writing assignments. Students who need help citing their sources seek our expertise in this area. The “How to Cite Sources” link on our library homepage is a great place for students to explore.

Sometimes student ask clear and direct questions, but often their initial research inquiry leads to other questions. When helping students, librarians will conduct a reference interview. The librarians chat with the student - in person, on the phone or virtually - to make sure we understand the question completely so we can more accurately meet their research needs.

OCC faculty and staff use the library, too. What do they use it for?

Absolutely. Classroom faculty often bring their students to the library for library instruction. These instruction sessions are tailor-made to meet the research needs of the specific class. These can be completed in one short (20 minutes) or one long (two hours) instruction session or spread over multiple classroom sessions for more detailed instruction. Library faculty work closely with classroom faculty to develop individual library instruction sessions or research course guides that best meet their students’ needs. Faculty also place materials on course reserve for in-library use.

We value receiving title suggestions for our collections from our fellow faculty members. OCC libraries carry material that help faculty members improve their teaching skills. For example, there is current interest in incorporating visual thinking strategies in the classroom. Librarians are examining titles to add to our collections to support faculty interest.

What skills have librarians had to add over the past decade or so to do their jobs better?

Librarians have adapted to the fast-paced technology changes. Our Online Services Committee has worked to ensure our library website remains compliant and accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We answer questions virtually through our Ask a Librarian service, allowing OCC students to get help from a professional librarian 24/7. Library faculty attend conferences and workshops to stay abreast of current trends and methods for teaching and assessing the information literacy skills of our students.

Students also can take a one-credit course on the library? Why do that?

Yes, we offer two one-credit courses for students regardless of their area of study. Being in an academic library is intimidating at first. Students needing an introduction to college library services and resources and to acquire basic research skills to use the library effectively benefit from taking LIB 1000: Introduction to College Libraries/ Information Resources.

LIB 1100: Information Research Methods is our second one-credit option. This course helps students become effective and efficient researchers. We teach students how to select appropriate research tools, analyze and evaluate information and cite sources to avoid plagiarism.

Knowing how to research efficiently and effectively will help students be more job-competitive.

Is the library just for serious, school-related matters?

OCC libraries also host events. For the past 10 years, libraries on all campuses hosted the National African American Read-in in honor of Black History Month. We invite students, staff and the community to come listen to participants read aloud from books written by African-American authors or to serve as a volunteer reader.

The OCC libraries host a Human Library at the Highland Lakes campus two times each year. A Human Library is an event that works to reduce prejudice and bias through conversations. The “books” in this library are people who have volunteered to speak about how they have been marginalized or discriminated against. Through the sharing of stories, participants hopefully learn to understand each other a bit better and marginalize others less. These events are well-attended and supported.

Additionally, OCC libraries have collaborated with a local public library and local schools to host Human Libraries.

The campus libraries all support a browsing collection to promote reading for fun.

Is the library open to the community at large or just students, faculty and staff?

We are a community college and open to the community at large. Oakland County residentscan use the library resources on campus and check out up to five books.

Supporting the information needs of our students, staff and community exemplifies how OCC libraries strive to empower excellence!