Welcome to the AU Library, Part 1

“The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
– Albert Einstein

If there’s one thing you absolutely have to know about the AU Library, It’s that they welcome questions. “Students who ask questions will be more successful,” says Elaine Fabbro, Acting Director, Library Services. At the AU Library, there’s no such thing as a stupid question?they want to hear them all. “Students can contact us no matter what the question,” Fabbro says.

A university library for many students?especially new ones?can be an intimidating place. How small and inadequate one may feel in the face of immeasurable knowledge. A single library contains more information than a student could take in over a lifetime. The quest for information needed for an essay or a research paper can be intimidating. Where should a student start?

Most AU students will start at the library’s website. Although the library has a physical location on the campus of Athabasca University, the majority of AU undergraduate students are distance learners. A link to the AU Library’s website is prominent on the upper-right of AU’s homepage; students can also access the library from their myAU homepage by logging in and clicking the library tab.

If You’re a new student at AU, or if You’re unfamiliar with university libraries, the first thing you’ll want to do is look around. Think of the library website in the same way as you would a physical library building. What would you do first? you’d probably start with a quick tour to orient yourself. The AU Library has a guided 5-minute tour to their website. Once you know the basic layout, you’ll want to wander around on your own to see what the library has to offer you.

Like a physical library, It’s difficult to browse the whole collection. According to the About Us page, AU’s library has over 150,000 books and media materials. Significantly for online students, the AU library boasts more than 200,000 e-books, and online access to 65,000 journals. AU Library’s collection serves two main purposes: to support courses and programming, and to support research in distance education. To the latter purpose, AU’s library houses the Reverend Edward Checkland Collection, one of the “finest collections of materials on the subject of distance learning.”

The AU Library website will be updated in the coming weeks. The new website will be easier to use and have streamlined content, according to Fabbro. AU students familiar with the library’s site will be pleased to know the dated look of the current site will soon be a thing of the past. The new site, which is expected to launch in October, will have the same URL: http://library.athabascau.ca/. As with the current site, the updated site will feature a tour to guide users through the website’s features.

Whether you check out the website now or wait for the new look, be sure to take some time and browse around. The more familiar you become with what the library offers, the better the library can serve you. And remember, if you have any questions about the AU Library, or its services, materials or website, the only thing you absolutely have to know is that they welcome questions. Contact the library by e-mail at library@athabascau.ca or by phone at 1-800-788-9041, ext. 6254.

The AU Library isn’t all about books; in the following weeks we’ll be looking at what else the library has for AU students.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario

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