Spring Clean Your Academic Life


Image from UPenn Facilities website

While it might not feel like spring outside yet, it is definitely around the corner. Spring break is over, and this semester is already halfway complete. Before we become busy with spring social commitments, with enjoying the nice weather (it’s coming, I promise!), and with beginning to study for finals, this point in the semester can be a great time to do some academic spring cleaning.

Sound new to you? Often, we often only think of spring cleaning as a chore we complete with our dorms, houses, or apartments, but actually this can be a great point in the semester for taking time to reorganize your academic life. Spending a few hours clearing out old papers and organizing important files can help you feel recharged and ready to take on the rest of the semester.


Image from NewBridge Recovery

So turn on some music, open up the curtains to let some sunlight in, and get ready to get organized. Here are some suggestions for how to spring clean your academic life:

  • Take some time to go through your folders (or the paper crumpled at the bottom of your backpack).
    • Recycle the papers you don’t need anymore.
    • If papers will be useful or helpful later in the semester or in future classes, place them in a labeled folder.
  • Organize the files on your computer.
    • Make sure you have created file folders for each of your courses this semester. Sort your files accordingly. Make sure to add any downloaded files that will be useful.
    • Delete the computer files you no longer need.
    • If you are reading a lot of PDFs, make sure you are keeping them organized for easy reference when you are writing future essays. Tools like OneNote, Notability, or Zotero can be great for helping to keep PDFs organized.
  • Sort out your Inbox!
    • This task can be dreaded, but now can be a good time to take charge of your email if it’s gotten out of hand.
    • Delete unread or unneeded messages.
    • Place important emails in their applicable folders
    • Take yourself email chains that you don’t need or send them directly all an advertisement folder so they aren’t clogging up your main inbox.
  • Take stock of your books and textbooks.
    • If you’re like me and you have too many books, make sure you’ve made any returns to the library.
    • See if you can sell back any books on Amazon or another site.
    • Donate books you no longer need to on-campus donation sites or a local library.
  • Review your planner and/or schedule.
    • Make sure your spring commitments are updated.


Image from Waterford Technologies

What else do you do to recharge and reorganize during the spring? Let us know!

Remember, instructors at Weingarten are here to help with any of your academic needs! Call 215 – 573 – 9235 to make an appointment. Or, stop by Monday thru Friday from 12pm to 3pm and Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 4pm  to 7pm for walk-in appointments.

By: Kelcey Grogan, Weingarten Learning Instructor and Learning Fellow


Super-Secret Study Spots: Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center Edition


I know what you’re thinking. Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center is not a secret study spot. I’m here to let you in on a little VP secret: there are two new spaces within our beloved library that opened this fall. The hours for these new rooms are the same as most of the rest of VP:

  • Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to midnight
  • Friday 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Sunday 10 a.m. – midnight

Read on to find out more about these great new spaces!

Moelis Family Grand Reading Room (first floor)

  • Noise level: Silent
  • Perks: The swivel recliners in the front of the room are perfect for study breaks.
    • This room truly is grand. A beautiful cloth tapestry lines one wall, with floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the other sides of the room.
    • This room also features plush blue chairs at every table to make your study time a comfortable experience.
  • The Moelis Family Grand Reading Room is sound-proof and totally silent. If you’re looking for a space to really buckle down and focus, this is your spot.

The Class of 1937 Memorial Reading Room (fifth floor)

  • Noise level: Quiet
  • Perks: Comfortable seating in front, study carrels in back. Perfect for any occasion!
  • The Class of 1937 Memorial Reading room is now a card-access room designed to meet the needs of graduate students.
  • This newly redesigned room features space for both independent and group study, and there is a lactation room available as well.
  • In addition to the new features, this room is also home of football memorabilia from the class of ’37. The glass display case features three footballs and several uniforms that give a feel for what live at Penn was like 80 years ago.

Class of 37

While you’re over at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center checking out the new spaces, don’t forget about our other favorite VP spots including:

Each separate space at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center has different advantages, so make sure to check them all out to decide which one works best for you.

Staff Writer: Cassie Lo, WLRC Learning Instructor


Bigger Pictures: So Much to Read, So Little Time

“The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring.”

                                                                                                                           ~  Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler, the author who gave us The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye and Farewell, My Lovely, as well as generously providing the epigram for today’s blog post, died way back in 1959.  He had good reason to bemoan the “flood of print”.  During his career paperbacks became cheaper and easier to produce, to say nothing of large circulation magazines and daily newspapers, many of which published multiple daily editions. So while Old Ray didn’t live long enough to witness the mad proliferation of text brought to us courtesy of the world wide web, there was certainly a greater availability of potential reading material.

In the land of academic reading the idea that a student will savor what’s been assigned seems beside the point. When confronted with hundreds of pages of required reading, the first urge is just to power through, roll the eyeballs over line after line of words, words, words until this nightmare is over. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right?  Complete the assignment, finish the book, read the PDFs.  Move on.

Savoring, in Chandler’s parlance, here is akin to processing, to thinking deeply, which is after all what we’re supposed to be doing anyway.  I’m not saying that we can do that with every assigned page of text, but I am saying that we should at least pick out chunks that resonate with us as readers and we should reread these bits, and think about what these passages mean not just in the context of the class material, but beyond.

On the other side we should acknowledge the dilemma of those tasked with building the reading list and the syllabus. This requires more than anything else to strike a balance between breadth and depth. Deciding what should be skimmed and what to read deeply is as much art as science, even for those who assign the work.

This is an old tension, maybe even an ancient one. Did the sages of Sumer worry that the unprecedented availability of cuneiform tablets made it more difficult to appreciate what had been pressed into the soft clay with a stylus?  Sure.  Let’s go with that.

Staff Writer: Pete Kimchuk

Notes from a long-time student: Books!

Every semester we all have to buy books. Lots…of…books! Whether they’re for a statistics, literature, or language course they add up, and not just in volume. But that’s usually not the end of the story. You start writing a final paper, you do your research, and you identify the perfect reference book. Most of the time your book is available in the library database–success! But every once in a while you run into the little red minus sign next to the words “Checked out.” E-Z Borrow, Borrow Direct, and Interlibrary Loan (ILL) are three great resources you may consider using. Here are a few scenarios that summarize the benefits of all three systems and provide guidance for using the one most appropriate for you.

I have an assignment due at the end of the month and the book I need is checked out at Penn.
If you’re pressed for time, try using Borrow Direct or E-ZBorrow. Borrow Direct is a rapid book request system that allows you to search a collection of over 60 million volumes through the libraries at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Duke, Dartmouth, John Hopkins, Yale and Princeton. If a partnering university has your book it will usually arrive within 3-5 business days. You can also try E-ZBorrow. E-ZBorrow will search for your book in over 60 academic libraries in Pennsylvania and nearby states. If your book is unavailable through both of those mediums, try Interlibrary Loan. ILL takes longer deliver so be sure to adjust the “need by” date on your request to reflect your deadlines.

I need to borrow a book for the semester, should I request it through ILL or Borrow Direct?
Borrow Direct books are loaned out for six weeks at a time, and are non-renewable more than once, a total of 12 weeks. The semester is 14 weeks so this option can leave you in a bit of a crunch, especially at the end of the semester. Try ILL. Most loans range from 2-6 weeks but vary depending on the lending institution and can typically be renewed.

Penn doesn’t own the book I need. I found it on both Borrow Direct and E-ZBorrow but am told that the book is non-requestable. What should I do?
There are some core textbooks that are not available for request on Borrow Direct and E-ZBorrow, such as calculus textbooks. Try placing an ILL request.

Whatever your situation may be, try out these great resources to be connected with your eagerly awaited books. If you know you’ll need a particular book within a specified time frame, plan ahead!

Staff Blogger: Erica Saldivar Garcia