Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where is Room 387?

Ah, yes... the elusive room 387, more difficult to find than Harry Potter's Room of Requirement. Room 387 is a classroom in the library that is utilized by many departments on campus. It's location is on the third floor inside the Curriculum area, which is just to the right of the stairs. Once inside the Curriculum area, proceed to the back left corner (you will pass the information desk and the book shelves), turn down a narrow corridor, and wish really hard for a classroom with desks and a whiteboard.

You may also find the library floorplans useful. Room 387 is labeled on the 3rd floor image.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Textbook rentals: a new option

Many textbooks are very expensive, and we at the library feel your pain. The library works hard to support MTSU classes with supplemental materials, but we cannot purchase all courses’ textbooks for placement on Walker Library course reserve. It is always disheartening to send away a desperate student “empty-handed” when we know you have a tight budget and possibly an exam the next day requiring access to a textbook.

Recognizing the dilemma that many students face with textbook purchases, new businesses have found a niche in textbook rentals. was started by a former MTSU student and offers students an alternative to purchasing expensive textbooks that may only be utilized by faculty a time or two throughout the course of a semester. has partnered with numerous college/campus bookstores throughout the country. Locally, it is partnered with the Blue Raider Bookstore. Rental fees are 5% per day of the book’s selling price. For a book that sells for $100.00, its rental fee is $5.00 per day, or $15.00 for three days, plus a 10% service charge.

Other textbook rental options include, which mails books directly to a student rather than working through a bookstore and offers discounted semester-long rentals, as does

Angry about high textbook prices? Worried that it's only going to get worse? Feel like it's time for a change? So do governmental groups, university systems, and public interest research groups. Tell someone what you think. Try university administration and your state and federal legislators.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Does the Library Have my Textbooks?

This is one of the top questions we get during the first week of classes, and we understand why: textbooks are ridiculously expensive. Why wouldn't you check them out for free if you have the option?

So here is the answer: maybe. So here is what you should do.

1. Search the library catalog by the book title or the author. We do not make a habit of ordering textbooks for our main collection, so it is unlikely that you will find one that you can check out for four weeks. Textbooks are updated too often and we prefer ordering books that will stand the test of time and support the ongoing research and study needs of the university. But occasionally a textbook accidentally makes it into our collection, so you should search the library catalog. Make sure you take note of the current call number and location. Some books used for classes are temporarily placed at the Reserves desk, which is option #2.

2. Search the course reserve system by instructor or course. Although we rarely order textbooks, a professor may have placed her or his personal copy at the Reserves desk on the first floor of the library. Items on Reserve may be used for a limited period of time -- usually only a few hours and usually only in the library -- to allow you to read a chapter, take notes, or make a few copies. Items on reserve can also be found in the library catalog by title or author, but if you don't know this information, the course reserves system is useful.

3. While we often don't have textbooks in our collection, we do have many of your supplemental readings, such as novels, plays, and non-fiction books. Check the catalog and take note of location information. Some of these materials are also placed temporarily at the Reserves desk.

Note: Although we're telling you how to find out for yourself, feel free to ask for help at the Reference Desk or through our IM, email, or phone service.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Between semester hours

Class may be out for the next two weeks, but you can still get your intellectual fix (or check Facebook or play online chess, or whatever) at the library.

We will be open 8-430, Monday through Friday and closed on weekends until August 25, when we return to regular hours.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wikipedia as required reading, and a challenge

We're all pretty up to speed on the perils of using Wikipedia for research: the entries could be written by anyone, expert or doofus; entries are frequently hacked, punked, and jumbled (thank you, Stephen Colbert); and because entries are open and editable, the information you cite today may not exist tomorrow.

Blah, blah, blah. We know the dangers, but we still use it, because under the right circumstances -- like getting a basic grounding on a topic you know nothing about -- it's pretty useful. Besides, most Wikipedia contributors are pretty passionate about ensuring its quality.

Still, you wouldn't use it for course work, right? Not unless you're in this professor's class. He makes some fairly decent points about how a project of this size would be unfeasible under a traditional publishing model, and the idea of having grad students contribute articles on specialized topics is a good one.

So here's your assignment: create a Wikipedia article for the James E. Walker Library.

There is an entry for MTSU, and the library is mentioned under Campus Information. If you create a library article, make sure you link to it there. Learn about creating a new Wikipedia article first.

Here is some background information on the library to get you started.
I'd like to see something by Monday. You didn't have any weekend plans, right?
Updated 8-3-08: The beneficent Sage accepted the challenge and created a Wikipedia entry on the James E. Walker Library, but there is room for elaboration if anyone wishes to take part. What resources, services, or features of the building should be highlighted? Are there any other historical tidbits to include? Does anyone know where the original library was on campus?
The licensing has also been changed on a few of the Flickr photos to allow use in Wikipedia.