by Liz Wilson
Photos by Peter Wiarda
Campus conversations frequently revolve around student fees and tuition. What are they for? Why do I have to pay so much? What do I get for my money? Where does all that money go? For most of those questions, I don’t have an answer. But through hard investigation and an hour-and-a-half of tough research, I have discovered some sweet perks afforded to each student by their student fees.
The Merrill-Cazier library is a great campus hangout that every student knows. Of course, the library is a place to get books, but this reporter has learned that there are some hidden gems among the stacks. Here are five things you may not know your student ID can get you for free from the Merrill-Cazier library.
1. Free Laptop Checkouts.
Library employee and sophomore Cade Ward gave me the inside scoop on what students can get for their money, if they know where to look. “Laptops are one thing most students don’t know about,” Ward said. “Both Macs and PCs, you can check them out for three hours at a time.” These computers can’t leave the library, but they are a convenient alternative to a desktop computer. Students who cannot afford their own laptop can check out one of these laptops and use Word, Excel or other Microsoft programs from the comfort of a plush chair.
Ward gave me a hint on how students can get more books than the library can even hold. With just a student ID, USU students can go online to the library database and request a book from almost any library in the country. So what if you want to read a rare copy of the “Hardy Boys”* and USU just doesn’t have it? With the help of inter-library loans, your book can be sent straight to the library from Missoula, Mont., to Muncie, Ind. (These are real places; check them out on one of the many hundreds of maps the library carries). Students can request books with a click of a button and they will arrive within 2-5 days.
If you have not heard of the Hardy Boys book series, I suggest you spend more time in the library.
3. Expensive Computer Software
The Merrill-Cazier library is home to dozens of PCs, but it also houses several Apple computers that are equipped with state of the art software that may just be too pricey for the average college student to afford. These Mac’s have the latest versions of video editing software like Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro. If you’re interested in web design or graphic design, you can also check out Adobe InDesign, Photoshop and Dreamweaver.
4. DVD and VHS Checkouts
If you’re short on cash and you want a fun date idea, check out the library’s large reserve selection. Derrick Harkness, a senior majoring in math education, let me in on the secrets of the back room desk. “Our DVD collection is back here,” Derrick said. “It’s a five-day check out and we try to get a range of documentaries [and] popular videos. I know that our circulation manager has ordered the first season of the [AMC series] “The Walking Dead.” We try to keep some new stuff.”
He explained that some of the videos in the collection are put on reserve by professors who want the students to come to the library to watch them. “We have four viewing rooms that they can go into with a group to watch those movies, or we have any number of viewing stations,“ Derrick explained. These viewing rooms are a hidden treasure if you don’t happen to have your own TV or if you have a surplus of annoying roommates who insist on hogging the TV. Bring a date, some popcorn and you have a private viewing of your favorite classic film like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” or the latest documentary.
5. Record Checkouts
Along with classic films, the library’s reserve desk is home to an impressive collection of classic jazz and swing music on original records. Records are an amazingly fantastic way to listen to some of the greatest musicians of the last century. Conveniently, for those of us who don’t have a record player, the library also has listening booths that allow you to swing out to Tommy Dorsey or scat with Louis Armstrong. Date recommendation No. 2: Bring a date to listen to some particularly romantic tracks on a record.
After exploring the library for just a part of an hour, I discovered all of these great things I didn’t know I could get for free. The staff of the Merrill-Cazier library is friendly and knowledgeable and they are happy to help you discover even more great benefits of going to the library. Take it from Arthur, “Having Fun Isn’t Hard, When You’ve Got a Library Card.”*
*Arthur is a cartoon aardvark who is the protagonist in a series of children’s books and a PBS television series. Click on the link to view a clever music video that you will never be able to forget.