5 Ways To Become A Power User

Of the TCTC Library

Want to know how to get the absolute most out of your college library? Here are 5 tips for becoming a power user of the TCTC library.

1. Become familiar with the library's OPAC.

The library's online public access catalog lists all of the individual resources the library holds. Each is tagged with a unique number, as well as various searchable terms based on its content. The OPAC will allow you to search by author, title, subject, and keyword(s) so you can locate exactly what you are looking for. Each item is listed with a summary of its details. If you search by keyword, it is possible to miss pertinent matches if your keyword differs from the language used in the item description. To avoid such a situation, it is wise to search with a combination of keywords and subjects, which makes it more likely that the sources you seek will not be omitted from your search results.

2. Make use of the Interlibrary Loan System.

Since one library can only carry so much and because the collection is tailored to the community being served, sometimes you want a book and it's no where to be found. If the library doesn't own it, ask about inter-library loan. Tri-County Tech is part of a state-wide system of libraries that might have a title you want to borrow. We will request the specific resources you are looking for from another library, which will deliver it straight to TCTC at no cost to you. It usually takes a few days to arrive because it may be arriving from the other side of the state. Be patient and respectful of the system. ILL is a service meant to connect people with the items they're looking for.

3. Get to Know Your Databases

Perhaps your most indispensable research tool, our library databases provide access to a near-endless supply of high-quality articles, journal publications, and scholarly texts that span a wide variety of subjects. They also allow you to download, email, and cite your findings instantly, which can save you time when you are researching and writing papers. This material can be accessed through the library webpage 27/7. Ask a librarian for the password, or, if prompted, sign in with your college ID number.

eBook services often come through a database as well. You login with your username and password then you're able to browse and download what you're interested in. If you don't know whether the library offers ebooks, search around the OPAC or ask a librarian. Sometimes, the entire range of digital items don't appear in the online catalog.

4. Request Titles For Purchase

If there's a book you're looking for that you can't find in the catalog, your librarians keep a wishlist of requested items that is used when purchasing books. Let us know what you would like and you'll be the first person who is able to get it if it is purchased. Understand that things are and are not purchased for a reason. Talk with your librarians and get to know your library's collection. The worst thing that happens when you request a book is that it isn't purchased.

5. Speak with a librarian.

Librarians are physically present for a reason. In many situations, it is helpful, if not necessary, to speak with an actual person about a research question or problem. Being highly trained experts, librarians can also provide you with other important library information, such as special events or activities, advice on how to best conduct research and how to generally make wise use of your time in the library.

Can't make it in person to the library? Feel free to email us at library@tctc.edu or connect to us through LibChat on our website or Twitter @TCTClibrary.