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Libraries: A Graduate’s Ally

October 14, 2016

Happy October, y’all,

This week’s blog is going to continue my theme of academic and professional success while in graduate school. You may ask, what resource is indispensable to your graduate arsenal? The answer is simple: University Libraries! They will be your colleagues/lifelines, from research to dissertation/thesis completion.

During first semester of my Master’s program, I made a great ally and eventual friend in Jewell Anderson, a subject librarian at Armstrong State University. While helping me navigate Notes and Queries, a multi-discipline academic journal that focuses on the different conversations happening in any given field, she helped me realize how important the library is to the graduate experience.

So let’s start with some general information about Mason’s University Libraries. Our library system is composed of 5 libraries: Arlington, Gateway, Fenwick, Law, and Mercer. As Mason students, we all have access to over 1.5 million books and 1.5 million e-books, over 1.2 hundred thousand print and online journals, and over 800 research databases. At each library, there are work spaces and study carrels for all students.

While Gateway and the Law Library are important to the success of students, we are going to be focusing on the three main libraries on each campus: Arlington Library, the main library at the Arlington Campus, Fenwick Library, the university’s main library as well as the primary library for Fairfax Campus, and Mercer Library, the main library on the SciTech Campus.

Arlington Library:

Located on the second floor of Van Metre Hall, the Arlington Library houses collections and support for the Schar School of Policy and Government, the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and the Master’s programs in Nonprofit Management and Arts Management. It was also designated the European Union (EU) Document Depository in the early 1990s, providing in-house access to non-circulating European Union documents for faculty, students and members of the public.

For graduate use specifically, Arlington Library offers six graduate study spaces in the Dissertation Writers’ Room, as well as study carrels. Arlington also offers “Evening Writing Group,” a program designed for PhD and Masters students seeking group accountability and a quiet space to write. For more information please check out their informational page.

Fenwick Library:

The newly expanded Fenwick Library is Mason’s main research library. Fenwick comprises 2 towers, each housing 5 floors of print book stacks, (printed books, journals, periodicals, and government documents), 5 floors of study spaces and private study rooms, the Special Collections Research Center, 30+ group rooms, Data Services Lab, tutoring space for the Writing Center, and the offices of most of the University Libraries’ subject specialist librarians, and (my personal favorite) the modern Main Reading Room, which seats 75 people and provides a space for quiet reflection and study on the second floor.

Fenwick Library has two specific features for graduate students: Graduate Study Zones and University Dissertation and Thesis Services (UDTS). The Graduate Study Zones are located on the 5th floor and are the home of the Graduate Study Carrels and the Dissertations Writers’ Rooms, which are reservable study spaces. Each semester, graduate students can apply for a carrel or dissertation room. UDTS helps graduate students prepare, format, complete, and submit their theses and dissertations correctly and on time.

While Fenwick offers a plethora of workshops, I would like to take a moment to discuss GRADReCon. GRADReCon (Graduate Student Research Connections Day) is a conference-styled workshop day, where graduate students concentrate on productivity, research, and writing skills through workshops on topics essential to graduate students’ success in their programs. GRADReCon is sponsored by Graduate Student Life and University Libraries; visit our event page  for more information..

I would also like to share a new Graduate Student Life and University Libraries initiative: Grad Night In. Join us at Fenwick Library for a monthly collaborative study date just for Mason grad students! We will provide caffeine and snacks; come with your work and a friend! Grad Night In will be held on Thursday, Oct. 27, 4-10pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 4-10pm, and Thursday, Dec. 15, 2-10pm in Fenwick 1014B. Stay for a minute or stay for a while — we hope to see you there!

Mercer Library:

Mercer Library is the main library for the Science and Technology Campus and specializes in Health Sciences, Biodefense, Bioinformatics, Criminology, Gaming, Security, and Computer Science. Like Arlington and Fenwick, Mercer Library also has study space available for reservation.

A main feature for this campus is what’s called “Consult in the Corner.” In “Consult in the Corner,” the library offers sessions each week in support of changing functional and subject literacy.  Reservations for the Consultation Corner can be made by calling the Service desk at (703) 993-8340.

This has been a basic overview of the campus libraries. Go to the University Libraries for more information or if you have questions. I highly suggest going to the libraries and speaking to the librarians, especially the subject librarians; they can help you along with your research and are up-to-date with the best journals, periodicals, and publications in your fields and can offer you tips for finding the most appropriate sources quickly.

As always, I hope y’all have a good week. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at aderay@gmu.edu.

Austin