Library partners with student orgs, expands resources for students


Rowan Swor, newly hired Student Engagement Assistant, works at her desk in Harden Hall. She has helped strengthen the connections between student organizations on campus and the Lydia M. Olson Library.

Katarina Rothhorn, Features Editor

In an effort to provide ways for the Lydia M. Olson Library to help students become more engaged on campus, Rowan Swor, junior political science major, was hired in May as a Student Engagement Assistant. Her new position will provide a direct connection between student organizations on campus and the library.

“Studies show that students who engage on campus have more successful academic careers and we would like to play a role in that,” Swor said. 

She is organizing projects such as the Atrium Installations that provide student organizations the opportunity to promote an issue they are passionate about. This month, the focus is on the Animal Club which is featuring an installation encouraging students to look into a more plant-based diet. 

The library will also be hosting a book club program with student organizations such as the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and the Native American Student Association. Each student organization will pick a book and then help lead a facilitated discussion about the book after the six-week reading period. 

Over the course of the semester, therapy dogs, two blood drives and other events will take place in the library space as well. 

When it comes to research and reading, Kimberly Smalley, the library’s user experience manager, is an adamant advocate of MeLCat and interlibrary loan services that allow NMU to borrow resources from other libraries. 

“There should not be extra costs for a student to complete their research. Whenever you hit a paywall for an article, do not pay it,” Smalley said. “Both MeLCat and interlibrary loan are free services that give you access to any item in the world.”

In addition to articles and books, the library offers free access to streaming media, virtual reality simulations and research assistance for students both on and off campus. The front desk also can provide phone and laptop chargers, flash drives, DVD drives and calculators, according to Smalley.

The usual printing services and workspaces will be available this semester, with study rooms being open once again. Study rooms can be reserved through the library website, but Smalley advises looking to the back of the library for quiet studying areas.

“The most common myth about the library is that the study rooms are the quietest place to study,” Smalley said. “If you are looking for quiet, check out the study carrels instead by heading to the two back corners of the library upper floor.”

With the library looking to continue expanding their resources available to students, they are planning on sending out a survey later this fall. They will ask students to rate how the library is providing space, services and materials to further meet the needs of as many students as possible.

“I think we are entering a place where student voices are going to be much more projected than they previously were,” said Swor.

However, the decision to keep all of these events and resources available for students is dependent on students’ compliance with continued COVID-19 protocols. The Lydia M. Olson Library requires anyone who is not fully vaccinated to wear a mask and for everyone to continue using the cleaning supplies provided throughout the library. 

For more information about the library’s upcoming events, hours of operation and online resources, visit their website or the Hub