Student Life Column

Syracuse University’s libraries are more than a study hall. Here’s how you can make the most of them.

Paul Schlesinger | Asst. Photo Editor

Libraries can hold a lot more than just a bunch of old books.

It’s been said that millennials are killing most industries, but don’t count libraries among them.

As a generation, we’re realizing libraries are no longer silent study halls to camp out at during finals week. Libraries, especially those on the Syracuse University campus, are full of hidden gems that can guide you through your college career, and they’re evolving every day to better serve students.

With nearly 1.2 million people traversing through Bird Library every year, according to the SU Libraries 2015-16 annual report, it’s clear campus libraries have become a home away from home for students. To boot, millennials used libraries more than any other age group on the whole in 2016, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center.


Andy Mendes | Digital Design Editor

The spring 2016 opening of Blackstone LaunchPad is a recent example of changing tides at Bird Library geared toward innovation. The LaunchPad, which is housed in the giant glass cube on the ground floor of Bird, serves as a place to help students make their business ideas come to life through partnership, mentorship and funding.

Students can walk in with an idea and receive support from conception to launch, said Linda Dickerson Hartsock, the LaunchPad’s executive director.

“It’s about being a part of this collaborative community and being able to have an idea and explore it,” she said. “We’ve got this whole spectrum of ventures that students are working on, which is really exciting for them to see and be a part of.”

A platform for entrepreneurship doesn’t seem to be a natural fit for a library, but it was a forward-thinking move. Hartsock said she thinks the LaunchPad is “a sign of where libraries are going,” adding that libraries are becoming “human-centered” hubs for collaboration, research and discovery.

If you hop on the elevator, the library’s third floor is home to new tutoring services at the Center for Learning and Student Success. On the fourth floor is Biblio Gallery, where students display their own works.

And at the top of Bird, there’s a hint of a traditional library: the sixth floor Special Collections. These are the archives in the library that contain primary sources and hidden gems — pages of a Johannes Gutenberg bible, a real Oscar award, correspondence from Malcolm X — accessible to anyone on campus.

With all these resources to navigate, it’s hard to know where to begin. Luckily, the library has you covered for that, too.

The welcome desks in Bird and Carnegie serve as a concierge service to assist patrons with any questions about where to find resources or how to use them. Specialty librarians can also help students ace subject-specific papers, get materials from around the world through interlibrary loans, and loan laptops, tablets and chargers.

SU Libraries even has a texting service that allows students to call a staff member — whether it’s because they’re deep in the stacks and need help finding a book or want the loud kids at a nearby table to quiet down.

SU Libraries’ value comes not only from its expansive collections and innovative technologies, but also through its 24-hour service and strong staff. It’s all aimed at making the libraries as welcome and inclusive as possible, said David Seaman, dean of SU Libraries.

“We see ourselves as a one-university service. We’re the library for everyone in the Syracuse University community,” Seaman said. “It’s really important for incoming students to understand that this is their library.”

At SU, libraries can be quiet places to put your head down and work or places to explore technology and bounce ideas off your friends. But regardless of what the campus libraries end up being to you, remember there’s always room to do more at Carnegie and Bird.

Joanna Orland is a junior newspaper and online journalism major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at


Top Stories