Excerpts from "All About The Undergraduate Library"
by George Hernandez

     I decided to do my mini-ethnography on the undergraduate library located behind Foellinger Auditorium. I figured to do my project on the library because I felt that it has a lot to offer and not everyone knows what is in it. The undergraduate library is one of the most popular libraries on campus. It is square shaped and looks as if the middle square was cut out. It consists of three floors in total in which the main two floors are underground. The above ground floor just serves as an entrance to the bottom two: the main level and the lower level. There are a total of two entrances, one at each side of the square shape. The undergraduate library also has a tunnel that leads to the main library (Main Stacks), so you wouldn't have to go outside. Before doing research and spending time in the undergraduate library, I figured that all libraries on campus acted as a place to do research, because of their great selection of books, a place to check out books that are needed, and a place to get some studying done. In the end, there is a lot more offered at the undergraduate library, and probably at many other libraries on campus also.

     There are many types of workers at the undergraduate library whom all serve a different purpose. The one group of workers, which most think about off the top of their heads, are the ones that organize the bookshelves. These workers walk around with carts of books and organize them into the other books in the correct order. They are also sometimes able to help you find something you might be looking for.

     Then there are the workers that sit behind the circulation desk. This is where you check out books and where you would come to drop them off. These workers can show you where pretty much anything is and they can also answer many of the questions you have which deal with the library in general. I have noticed that while they are waiting, they sit behind computers. Some might be doing homework, since some workers are students, while others might be surfing the Internet. There are usually about two to three workers always at the circulation desk.

     The reference desk is another important place in the library. I have never known of anything like it except for now. As I was observing, I noticed that it had its own little station. There was one worker there at the time of my observations. The worker, Meghan, was willing to help me in finding out what the reference desk is all about. Meghan is a graduate assistant working at this station. When I asked her what her job consists of, she stated, "I help people with any type of reference work." I didn't really understand what she totally meant by this, so I asked her, "In what way do you help people?" She responded, "I usually help students find reference books, or find reference materials through the online catalog." After I asked her a couple questions, I watched to see how she helped others. While observing Meghan, I would see her, every now and then, over-the-should of someone, helping them with what ever they were working on, on the computer. As she helped one student she would point at the screen, as to tell him where to click, or she would take the mouse and show him. Overall, she seemed to be a very helpful and respectful worker.

     The last area, which I had the wrong idea about, was the reserve desk. I always thought that this was the area where you can put certain sources on reserve, hence the name "reserve desk." But then again, I figured, "Why would someone put something on reserve when they can just look at it or check it out?" After talking with one of the two workers in this area, I found out what it is really about. I found out through Chanell that the reserve area is a place where professors put books, videos, and soundtracks on reserve for students to come and research. These sources, on the shelves behind the desk, can be sources brought over from any other library on campus. Chanell also stated that students can only check them out for a period of two hours at a time and cannot leave the library with them. These sources pretty much act as reference sources.

Click to see George's map of the Library