Tips for Success – How the Libraries Can Help You!

August 21, 2023

by Abby Winterburn, Libraries Communications Assistant

Should I study and do my homework in the libraries on campus? What resources can they offer me? How will this improve my experience with my courses and class requirements? These are just a few questions I asked myself as I adjusted to the academic demands of college life during my first semester at UW-Madison. 

Between some research and asking my upperclassmen friends, the benefits of getting to know the Libraries became abundantly clear. 

I needed to get comfortable with the Libraries! 

That’s why I’m going to share my experiences and tips, so you don’t have to do your own investigation. 

First: Ask a Librarian! Find that blue thought bubble button on the top right corner of, and you will find several ways you can have instant access to a librarian who can help. This service allows students, faculty, and staff to reach out to librarians across campus. Start a general or specific chat, where you can choose the library with which you want to connect. You also have the option to talk and text with a librarian or even call them. If you need something more personal, just select a virtual consultation or make an in-person visit. Our librarians can help you with anything! From tech assistance or creating and building video productions to getting expert assistance on proper research practices, the librarians have the expertise and ability to not only point you in the right direction but to teach you along the way and make things easier for you. 

Second: If you don’t have time to search high and low for every possible available material and resource, don’t worry. The Libraries offer course reading lists and resource links to help students stay efficient – and accurate. The course reading lists provide all the reading material students need for all their courses over the three most recent semesters. For example, the index currently provides materials for the Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022 semesters. Students can choose which semester they want to search, select the class genre, find their specific class number, and view the reading list. The resource link is an advanced search that allows students and professors to search multiple databases such as articles, journals, digital collections, images, and sounds. This service keeps students efficient and ensures the credibility of their work is fully supported. 

Third: The Libraries offer spaces and equipment for checkout. Students can check out iPads, laptops, AV equipment, game consoles, and tools (if you’re thinking hammers, button makers, and rubber mallets – yes, they have all of that and more). When visiting the Libraries’ website, students can view tables and see which equipment is available at which library. You can set up a reservation, check an item out, and even renew your checked-out items online. 

Don’t have enough space to use your new equipment in your apartment? Is your dorm just too noisy for focus? No problem. You can reserve study rooms for yourself or a group of study buddies. Booking a room online, and you’re on your way. 

Fourth: If you’re looking for the best place to conduct research on various different topics, look no further than the University’s libraries. Not only do they provide students with tangible print and online resources, but you can also enjoy the incredible materials found in Special Collections.

Fifth: Need a break from the crowded dining halls and union cafes? Try out the Open Book Cafe in College Library. This cafe provides drinks and several snacks for university students, as well as comfortable seating and large tables, fit for several studious individuals. This space also provides a quieter atmosphere for those who need to focus on studying for finals.

Sixth: Sometimes online research just isn’t enough. The next best option? Heading to the library to talk to a librarian (they don’t run the Ask a Librarian Service for nothing!). So, instead of giving up when Google doesn’t have the right answers, go explore a University library and find a librarian who has more knowledge, resources, and tips for helping you find what you need than you could ever imagine.

Finally, the Libraries offer workshops, classes, and events. You’ll want to make the time to participate! You can sign up for classes if you need help figuring out how to use a specific technology or advanced software. You can also join workshops where you’ll collaborate with other students on projects, research, and more. Students also can hear from guest speakers and researchers that the Libraries bring to campus for events. 

These are just a quick view of my favorite ways I have used the Libraries – and it’s not all of the great ways the Libraries can help! 

I hope this list reminds current students of the fantastic opportunities the Libraries offer and introduces incoming students to the importance of making the Libraries a regular partner in your time and experience here at UW-Madison. The libraries are a significant part of our university community and the effort to ensure student success.

Welcome to the 2023 Fall Semester!