Murphy Library Resource Center popularity soars

Close up photo of Murphy Library Resource Center words.


By UW-L student Melissa Moss

Being a student at UW-La Crosse has its perks: a great education, high probability of getting a job after graduation and a thriving campus. One thing many forget about is our excellent library, stacked full of research material, books, online databases and librarians who are more than willing to help any struggling student.

Students in res halls get help from ‘Librarian Super Heroes’ and academic coordinators

Those who live on campus might already know all of this, thanks to the Library Hall Program. Each residence hall is matched up with a librarian, who becomes that hall’s “Librarian Super Hero.” These “super heroes” give students tips and tools for using the library to their highest potential, whether it be by helping students individually, participating in programs in the hall, building bulletin boards loaded with information, or providing hall-wide presentations about library resources. With this program put in place, students are provided a go-to person that is committed to helping students out when they are in a crunch.
Each residence hall also has an academic coordinator, a student volunteer from within the residence hall who works to promote the hall librarian to residents. This person also helps publicize resources and collaborates with the librarian to produce programs that help students feel equipped to take advantage of Murphy Library.

Students in reference area in library.

During the 2010-11 academic year, students passed through the library’s entry turnstile 619,361 times.

Murphy Library is ‘academic heart of campus’

For those living off-campus, getting to Murphy Library may only happen when group meetings are scheduled or big exams are coming up. Outreach Librarian Stefan Smith says Murphy Library is the “academic heart of campus,” providing students with the ideal study location, including hundreds of thousands of credible information resources, a café for coffee lovers, technologies that aid students in special projects and an environment that encourages productivity and intellectual inquiry. If you’re studying at the library, surrounded by others who are being productive and exploring academic topics, chances are you will be more productive too, he notes.

In reality, more students are using the library. When students walk in the door and pass through the turnstile they are being counted. During the 2010-11 academic year, students passed through the library’s entry turnstile 619,361 times. This wasn’t always the case – for a few years when the Internet was first gaining popularity, fewer students took advantage of the library. Now that many are aware of the junk and unreliable sources that can sometimes show up while searching the Internet, coupled with the fact that the library has become such a student-friendly place, more students are taking advantage of the hundreds of databases that are home to reliable academic sources.

Value of texts as sources renewed

Students are also seeing the advantage in using texts as sources. Smith says librarians are receiving more questions about how to find books than in the past, as many students never learned how to find books in a library setup because of the onset of the Internet. Though the skill of finding a book isn’t essential to every career, knowing that students need to find books in addition to articles and other research data allows the library some insight to what students are using for research.

Library hours expanded based on student feedback

With the rise in use of the library and its resources, it is no surprise that students desire additional open hours and resources for students. The Academic Initiative Oversight Committee (AIOC) has allocated additional funds for the library to extend its open hours during the week and on weekends. The decision was based on student body votes in support of expanding library resources. The new library hours of operation thanks to Academic Initiatives are:

  • Sundays: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
  • Mondays-Thursdays: 7:30 a.m.-1 a.m.
  • Fridays: 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

One goal for Murphy Library staff is to be personal information specialists for students. When looking at how academic most students are on this campus, having these resources and services available is necessary to provide a very well-rounded, fulfilling educational experience. Because of the great atmosphere, tools and librarians, Murphy Library is more than just a library or study location – it’s the complete package.