Online Learners Love Libraries

Libraries and learning go together. While libraries are for more than learning, and learning can take place anywhere, there is still a vital link. October is Canadian Library Month, and in my home province this week, October 16 to 22, It’s Ontario Public Library Week.

Libraries?both academic and public?are a valuable resource for students. And not just for books. As an online learner, I find I rely on libraries often:

Exam Invigilation. Of the all the places listed in AU’s invigilation network, I like libraries the best. I’ve written exams?online and paper?at three different library branches and they’ve all been good experiences. Libraries offer a quiet, unrushed atmosphere, computers with internet access and ample desk space. Although it might be different in a large city, the smaller libraries near me have one designated invigilation contact, which makes exam scheduling anxiety-free.

Study space. Libraries offer a study-friendly atmosphere just right for focused work. Although libraries are no longer the “quiet, please!” places of former years, they still offer a tranquil atmosphere conducive to study. I usually study at home but It’s easy to get distracted by all the little tasks that must get done. When I want to force myself to focus, I pack up my textbooks and head for the library. Tucked into a quiet corner or a study carrel, I get significantly more studying done than at home.

Research materials. Libraries are the go-to place for research materials. As an AU student, I rely heavily on AU’s library for online and physical research materials. And I’ve just requested a COPPUL card from the AU Library so I can access participating academic libraries across Canada. But the public library plays a role, too. While my local library tends not to stock the academic materials needed for research, I can often find supplementary materials to help me broaden my subject knowledge. And through inter-library loan, a service available in most provinces, I can access materials from other public libraries across Ontario. Often I can get approved research materials from big-city libraries, like Ottawa’s, sent directly to my local branch. Between these three tiers of libraries?local, province-wide, and academic?I can always find what I need.

Relaxation. Balance is important to students. Although online learning requires more discipline than classroom learning, sometimes we have to remind ourselves to take a break, too. I use the public library often to get my fix of leisure. Books in fiction or non-fiction, photo-essays, videos, music, just about anything to take my mind away from my studies for a few minutes. Even the act of going to the library and browsing through shelves is a relaxing activity that allows my student brain to go off duty for a while.

For me, libraries and learning go hand-in-hand. I couldn’t imagine getting through my degree program without the support of libraries. While I love libraries year round, in celebration of Canadian Library Month I’ll renew that love?with no due date and no late fees.

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

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