Research Resources Failing Students

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Published February 4, 2016
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The Montclarion
Editorial Cartoon by Melisa Vallovera
Editorial Cartoon by Melisa Vallovera

Editorial Cartoon by Melisa Vallovera

For the first time, Montclair State has been recognized as a Doctoral Research University. This achievement has come as a welcomed change for the school. In a press release, Montclair State contributed this significant classification to “the substantial growth at Montclair State in doctoral-level education and research activity,” yet little attention has been given to student research resources as they remain at a standstill.

A vast majority of courses offered at Montclair State require students to complete some kind of research component. This has long led students to turn to Harry A. Sprague Library. However, today, Sprague Library does not meet the new standards of student research.

At first, a student may be overwhelmed by all the library has to offer, but once they can finally understand the layout, students will learn that many of the books are too old to use for research required in their course. Some professors require that resources used in papers and projects be published as recently as 2000. Since physical resources such as books are often outdated at Sprague Library, students are forced to seek out more recent versions elsewhere.

Luckily, Sprague Library provides students an online database to complete research. Through the library homepage, students can access some of the largest online databases like JSTOR and Encyclopedia Britannica — that is, if they are able to understand the library’s confusing website. All this confusion has led many professors to set up library tours during class hours to enhance student understanding. While these tours have proven to be helpful in the past, they can only do so much. After 1 hour and 45 minutes of information, students cannot become experts and not every student has one of these library tours to help them.

Even though they may not become library experts after one of these tours, students should have a good basis of knowledge to work with. However, after beginning their research, students will quickly realize that Montclair State does not offer the full version of some databases, like JSTOR. For some articles, students must make a request to loan them and wait up to two weeks for them to arrive at the library. Many course require students to finish research within short periods of time, so this waiting period is extremely inconvenient.

Fast approaching due dates force students to seek out alternatives. This results in students having to go off campus to other universities or the New York Public Library just to complete a research project. Students should not have to go off campus to obtain the necessary resources. Students should not have to pay to travel to other libraries when they already pay a large amount of money to Montclair State University. With students paying their fair share of tuition and fees, they should be able to have full access to the tools they need to get the most out of their education.

Sprague Library’s access to online articles and online books is limited. In many cases, large classes need to have access to a particular resource. This is problematic, as the library will only own so many copies of the resource. If one member of the class is using a resource, another student may have problems gaining access to it. This hurts students who are required to read certain resources and are unable to do so.

Due to the nature of the online databases and set up of the library, students believe that they are not created with the user in mind. They commonly get lost within the sea of unrelated online resources or in the various rows of books.

Students at Montclair State need to be able to excel in research just as their professors have. Professors are not the only ones who need to complete comprehensive research — students do, too.

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