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

secret-1142327_960_720

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

 

Advertisements

Resolutions for a Fresh Start

14575381944_7999863fb3_b

“And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

            And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught

            For auld lang syne.”

~  Robert Burns

Have you ever wondered why, when the ball drops at midnight, nobody seems to know all the words to the song, other than the pressing question of whether or not the auld acquaintance should  be forgot, and that bit about the auld lang syne?  Well, now you know.  Above is the 5th verse (yes, really, there are five verses) in all of its Scots glory, which now allows you to feel better about New Year’s Eve, and which now allows me to type the phrase “right gude-willie waught” one more time and drive spell check into wiggly red underscore frenzy.

Go ahead:  sing the 5th verse.  You know the melody.  Give it spin.  I’ll wait here.

Fun, huh?

Anyway, now that we got the melody looping in your head for the rest of the day, let’s talk Resolutions.

The problem with most resolutions, especially those of the improving-my-academic-performance variety, is that our planning can be overly ambitious.  It’s like resolving to whip yourself into shape by adopting a plan where you work out three hours a day, seven days a week and, falling short of the lofty goal, abandon the initial resolution for yet another shameful period of slothful anti-health.  It’s supposed to be a resolution, not a guise for self-punishment.

If you’re looking to post better grades and/or learn more, start with small, simple strategies.  Let’s get back to basics:

  • Review your lecture notes after class within 24 hours. This needn’t require a massive amount of time; 20 to 30 minutes max.  Couldn’t get to the notes in 24 hours?  Don’t abandon the resolution, adjust the plan and get to them in 48.
  • Go to class.   Even if you think you don’t get anything out of lecture because A) I hate the professor  B) The lecture makes no sense and I just get more confused  C) Life is so much better in bed  –  lecture is still three hours a week with the course material.  At the very least, if you’re not replacing missed class time with study time, you’re falling further behind.
  • Read more, especially if it seems like you don’t read at all. I’m not saying read everything.  Remember the whip yourself into shape thing earlier?  Same principle.  Start with Power Point slides, or chapter summaries.  And don’t just read for the sake of reading, think about what you’re reading.
  • Come to Weingarten. Our friendly learning instructors know their way around all kinds of academics-related resolutions.  At least one of us knows what a right gude-willie waught is.

Now sing the fifth verse of Auld Lang Syne one more time.

 

Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor

Tech Tuesday: Zotero

This Tech Tuesday we are highlighting Zotero which is a browser extension and stand-alone desktop application for Windows and MacOS. Zotero is most commonly known as a citation manager similar to EasyBib or Mendeley. While Zotero is excellent at managing citations, it is capable of so much more. This article will provide an overview of its most useful features. Future blog posts will expand on Zotero with in-depth how-to guides. I like Zotero because it is feature rich and can help students keep readings and citations well organized. Another huge perk is that Zotero is open source software. Not only is it free, but it also has a number of useful plug-ins and add-ons.
zotero 1.jpg

Managing Citations and Outputting References:

As mentioned, Zotero is an excellent citation manager. The base install of the desktop application comes with a variety of standard citation styles including MLA, APA, Chicago and others. Have an obscure citation style only used by a specific discipline, don’t fret, chances are you can find it in the Zotero style repository here.

Outputting in-text citations in Zotero couldn’t be easier. Select the reference or references you want a citation for, right-click and select “Create bibliography from item” choose in-text citation, your chosen style, and copy to clipboard. Then, simply past the citation where needed in your document. You can create full reference pages in much the same way. Simply choose bibliography in the output section.

zotero 2.jpg

Add, Organize and Manage Citations

Zotero has feature rich folder options to keep your citations organized. You can create a folder for a given class or project and then store all your citations in the folder. Adding citations is easy. If you’re using Google Scholar, you can simply download an RIS file (RefMan) using cite function in Google Scholar and open it with Zotero. Books can be added using the wand button (zotero button.jpg) and then adding the ISBN for the book. Zotero will handle the rest. Using add-ons Zotero can even scan PDF’s of journal articles and collect all the citation and metadata info directly from the article. A how-to blog outlining just how to do this will be available soon.

Have a class with a heavy reading load? Zotero is great for keeping all your readings organized. Add them all to a folder for that specific class and then you can write summaries or outlines for each with the built-in note taking function.

zotero 3.jpg

Alternatively, or in-addition, you can also add any attachment you want to a given reference. For STEM students, this could be particularly useful if you draw diagrams in your notes and you want to keep them together with a specific reading. As mentioned, Zotero is free you can download it here. Check back soon for specific how-to guides that will expand in-depth on the various features and options Zotero has to offer.

Staff Writer: Randall Perez

 

Friday Feature: Favorite Study Spots

Fisher Fine Arts LibraryPicture1.png

Address: 220 S 34th St. (Just on the other side of Locust Walk from Van Pelt, adjacent to College Hall)

Hours: 9am-5pm (Summer) 8:30am-12am (Starting Fall Term 2016)

Noise Level: Very low

Perks: Some of the prettiest architecture on campus. Has been compared to Hogwarts. Access is open to all Penn students.

Fisher Fine Arts Library is one of my favorite spots on campus. While Fisher is hardly a secret, it is less frequented than Van Pelt and typically has open study space available. Unlike Van Pelt, which can be brimming with activity and a decent amount of noise at any given time in the semester, Fisher is very quiet. The library is so quiet on most days that you can hear a pin drop. Located just on the other side of Locust Walk from Van Pelt, Fisher is a must see and great study space. It is particularly great for reading and there’s no shortage of tables for study space here. 

Picture2.pngOne thing to be aware of if you’re planning to study in Fisher is to be prepared to charge any devices you might need for studying beforehand. The only drawback to studying in Fisher is that it is so gorgeous, you might be too busy gawking at the architecture to concentrate on your work. If you haven’t been to Fisher yet, definitely check it out.

Picture3.png

If you’ve been to Fisher before and have any thoughts or feedback, or other great study spaces students should know about, feel free to comment below and we may just highlight one of them in the next blog post!

Staff Writer: Randall Perez

 

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

Friday Feature: Super Secret Study Spots

Wondering where you should go this weekend to do your work? I’m here on Fridays to share local study spots that you should definitely check out if you’re on the hunt for that perfect location.

Leon Levy Dental Medicine Library
240 South 40th St.
Hours: Monday-Friday 9-5 p.m. (after hours and weekends are reserved to Dental School students and staff)
Noise level: Low
Perks: They have resources for basic sciences in addition to dental sciences including access to biomedical databases

dental6

At this point in the semester, Van Pelt is filled to the brim with students frantically studying for their midterms. Some people work well in semi-quiet, social spaces, but for those of you who prefer more muted locations, we suggest some of the less-frequented Penn libraries.

For those of you who live around 40th Street, the Leon Levy Dental Medicine Library is the place to be. The library is located within the Robert Schattner Center near the corner of 40th and Locust Streets. Once you show your Penn ID to the security guard at the info desk, ask for someone to point you in the right direction. The library is around several twists and turns within the building, but it is certainly worth the journey!

The library itself is a beautiful sight. The two floors are visible from the entrance, and there are tables on both levels that are perfect for studying by yourself or with a friend. The atmosphere is very calm and you’ll often see Dental students pop in for a quick study session between their classes.

The one downside of this space is that the hours for non-Dental students and staff are very slim, but it is easy to be productive here, even in a small amount of time.

Have a great spot that we should feature on our blog? Comment below and let us know where you study!

Two of Our Ten Best

Last week, we opened our Mastering the Ivy League workshop series for undergrads new to Penn with a session called, 10 Best Study Strategies for Successful Students. Although we cannot reveal all 10 of these wonderful strategies here, we’d like to share two that we think undergraduate, graduate and professional students might all find useful.

Drum roll, please…

1

  1. Identify your purpose for reading, preview the text, and read strategically.

This seems like common sense, but when faced with a long list of required readings or a heavy textbook, students often rush toward one of two ends of the reading strategies spectrum: 1.) skimming; 2.) cataloging every minute detail. The former may leave you feeling like you didn’t read anything at all. The latter may be unsustainable, given the demands of your other coursework.

In the 10 Best Study Strategies workshop, we ask students to please remember some simple reasons for reading these texts:

1.1

For instance, if you’re reading to say something in class, maybe “taking notes on the reading” means writing down three questions that you could ask in class. Or, if you’re reading to write a paper, you’ll develop a summary for each article or chapter and gather one or two key quotes. Keeping your basic purpose in mind will help you develop a more strategic approach to those very daunting syllabi.

And for your second and final freebee…

6

6. Make peer study a weekly routine.

You see your friends all the time. You live, eat, study and recreate in very close proximity. But how often to you actually talk to each other about what your professors discussed in lecture or what you’re reading on a given day?

6.1

Being intentional about having these conversations (on a weekly basis!) makes it easier to stay engaged with your courses, solidify concepts in your head, and prepare for class participation and your many exams. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting until the weekend before the big test to form a study group of 12 people that will only serve to stress you out. Find one or two committed peers (you don’t even have to be friends!) and make these conversations part of your weekly routine.

That’s it! That’s all you get–unless you make the wise decision to CLICK HERE to get more information about attending one of these upcoming workshops:

Mastering the Ivy League Flyer - Fall 2015