Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Durick Library: Best College Library (Fact).

The library offers an obvious flavor of academic utility: academic literature, miles of novels and other books, online resources, computers, study spaces, etc. Not only do students have access to resources from our own library, but from other libraries (other universities, I believe) who participate in our inter-library loan. One might say that the library is endless in its offerings of academic resources; last semester when Common Ground asked a librarian if the club could co-purchase the rights to a film, they offered to pay for the whole thing (Intersexion is now available for rent from the DVD stacks), so you can pretty much get what you need. But there's more to the library than just academics, and those qualities are the ones that: (a) make it the special place that it is, and (b) will probably comprise the more significant aspects of my memories spending time there.

The Strangely Hidden History

Last semester, I got to tour the archives and "secret room" of the library, which are two of the only spaces not readily accessible by the student body (without permission). Not only was it wicked cool to see parts of the library I'd dreamed of seeing since freshman year (seriously, those windows into the secret room on the far right front of the library are mysterious!), but I also learned that our library houses some serious history and treasures. These include but are not limited to: an *alleged* piece of the cross (like THE cross), a relic from the body of Saint Edmund (his skin), and Sermones de patientia in Job, which was published in 1474 (like, before the Native Americans saved Chris Columbus and his crew after nearly drowning in the Ocean Blue). This tour was the first time I knew we had any of this, and my point in sharing is that Durick automatically become ten times cooler when you consider the mass of unique historic artifacts that rest beneath the chairs of these studious Purple Knights.

It's Like Our Living Room (Imagine Gryffindor House).

Definitely Gryffindor (Dailey Room).
You know how some witch or wizard always happens to be lounging in the Gryffindor common room when Hermione, Ron and Harry stumble in post-plotting or post-delinquency? You don't? OK: well it's this magical space filled with fluffy chairs, pictures on the wall, and what I imagine to be the warm scent of magic. In these ways, I find Gryffindor house to be like Durick (if we had a fireplace that would be BOMB). Walking into the library is like entering a hybrid world of studiousness and napping (we really do nap in there), with the occasional social exchange between stressing classmates or busy friends. Someone's always reading some book, and more often than not you'll see a student without their shoes. It is the most comfortable place on campus to bust out a paper, cram some studying, or even plan out an organized academic schedule if that's what you're into. Either way, I and most of the people I know get most of our homework done there, and I'm unconvinced that this can be explained by anything but library magic (which probably comes from the archives downstairs!).

Everyone Has their own spot (because there are so many).

Different people find comfort in different spots; whereas I'm more of a table-and-chair kind of person, my boyfriend Trevor can read dozens-of-pages articles in armchairs that put me to sleep. So depending on the type of student/type of homework, one can seek out: independent study cubicles, computer labs, a food-friendly study room downstairs, group project tables, individual tables in the bird's nest, or, like I've mentioned, fluffy armchairs. The library-goers with whom I often associate are frequent fliers in the Dailey Room, which also houses the Global Eyes photo exhibition (which showcases student photography from around the world). My personal favorite, though, are the two most secluded study cubicles at the end of the rolling stacks in the basement (you kinda have to find them). I'll be happy to consult with anyone looking to find a Durick study spot that best suits them, just shoot me an email ;) (sort of kidding but I'll actually help you if you want).

Lollipops and Other Comforts

Durick's Den--the location of much snacking and finals
coffee breaks.
I think I've called Durick comfortable more than once, and that's due to more than just the sleep-inducing armchairs. Next time you're in the library, take a left at the top of the stairs and head for the encyclopedias. Across the aisle from the research desks you will likely find a large pink bowl of purple and gold lollipops, supplied courtesy of the library for nothing more than pure happiness and study calmness. During finals, there are cookies, coffee and hot chocolate in the food-friendly Durick's Den (in the basement), because the library knows we're stressed and wants us to be happy. It is the plurality of possible study spaces, wonderful librarians and college staff, plus amenities such as these that make Durick the truly welcoming place that it is, and for this I don't hesitate to call it my favorite building on campus.

If you have any questions about the library or want a personal tour, I will be more than happy to oblige at any time.

Thanks for reading, and happy studies!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Summer Research On-Campus.

Each year, the Social Science Research Center at Saint Mike's accepts applications from students looking to pursue summer research with professors. I'm pleased to say that my application was accepted, and I'll be doing research on private prisons with Professor Walsh in the Economics department this summer!

The SSRC, as well as the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, which also gives students awards for independent research, offer unique opportunities in that the students selected have quite a bit of autonomy in determining the question, hypotheses, and methods of their research. So while my professor will advise me in the process of gathering data and crunching numbers, the direction of my research is largely up to me, At the end of the summer, I'll have a final paper written as the culmination of the investigation, which I'll be able to present at the academic symposium at the end of my senior year.

There are also students who do research through organizations like EPSCoR, which works with Saint Michael's faculty and students, but is an external organization. My best friend and room mate Carlos Sian just did his final presentation on the research he did last summer (pictured), which was about the levels of ammonium and nitrate in Vermont streams and watersheds.

This availability of such opportunities really speaks to the culture of academia on campus, because many students are actively engaged in research during the summer and also throughout the academic year. Obtaining such a position often requires extra work and motivation, but the students who take advantage of them are learning invaluable skills in their various fields that will translate well in other long-term pursuits. And these researchers are no joke--a student in the chemistry department was recently the first Saint Michael's student to be named a Goldwater scholar, which is a very prestigious award.

I'm very grateful and humbled to be selected for such an opportunity, and I look forward to beginning my research this June! If you have any questions about research opportunities, my research, or anything in general, don't hesitate to shoot me an email (brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu).

Thanks for reading!