Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Research Day

Like any class we will take, the first day of Presidential Powers was, to be completely honest, fairly dry and boring. Since we take classes everyday for 2 2-hour intervals, the time we have in class is strictly limited, which is both good and bad. 

At yesterday's morning session, we really didn't have much time after going over the syllabus and course schedule, briefly introducing ourselves, and brainstorming ideas for possible theses for our research essays. And, as you can imagine, it was quite tedious. 

The afternoon, on the other hand, was spent touring one of two main libraries we will use as research resources -- the Butler Library.

This morning, we went over to the Lehman Library. There to meet us was Jerry Breeze, one of the research librarians at the library with a special focus on government. He graciously took time to show us how to use the Columbia search engine offered at the library to find information crucial to our essays, and even gave us a quick tour around before returning to his work. After that, it was free-time to scavenge for useful information. The afternoon was pretty much a continuation of what we started doing.

I remember last summer at Cornell that we didn't have much free time to do anything but classwork. During the last week of the summer course, a bunch of our friends went together to take peeks at the various buildings on the Cornell campus. One of those days, we entered what we called the "Harry Potter" library. Although we didn't exactly go there to study or to do research, we had such a great time and I remember thinking, oh man, I wish we discovered this place earlier so we can come here, even if we can't do anything there but blog. Obviously what we're doing at Columbia is different. We will literally be going to at least one library almost every day during the week to study, read, or research, so not going to the libraries will not be a regret this summer!

And while we're on the subject of libraries, I might as well mention just how different these libraries are in comparison to our local libraries. Although I've only gone to the Hercules, Pinole, Rodeo, and El Sobrante branches, I can assure you, many of these libraries on campus are much much bigger than what we have. Also, things are organized in letters, numbers, and decimals. The shelves are also more compacted together, so people can't walk side-by-side with each other while retrieving the books between aisles. A lot of the aisles are also very dim... and creepy. Of course, I would notice the lights that have been so conveniently and cleverly installed at the ends of bookshelves AFTER I finished looking for books in the dark. It takes a few tries to get used to the new organization system at these libraries, but once familiar with it, finding books is quite an easy task.

1 comment:

  1. Yueming,

    A good library can, by itself, be an inspiration.

    After attending a good university we're often spoiled by their great libraries. When we return home to our local libraries they can be such a letdown with their limited resources and utilitarian architecture and layout.

    At your Columbian libraries I'm betting that just about any librarian can immediately point you in the right direction or provide you with suggestions for other books and resources.

    Back in our local libraries the staff may not be so accommodating. Their days tend to be filled more with dealing with youngsters who come to play or with senior citizens seeking solace. Checking out the latest DVDs to the locals or assigning computers to young people takes up much of their time.

    Take it all in while you can, Yueming, You still have another year of high school with your limited school library and the Hercules Public Library before you head off to those great university libraries with millions of volumes at your disposal.

    [I don't want to step on any toes here by suggesting that there might be something wrong with either the Hercules High Library or the Hercules Public Library. They're both great but they have limited resources compared to the great libraries at major universities.]