Even as we move more and more digital, libraries are not losing relevance. There are six major libraries on the Syracuse University and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) campuses available to Syracuse University students and numerous smaller, school-specific library spaces that offer in-person assistance and instruction. However, in keeping with the times, the Syracuse University Libraries department has an extensive online database of resources to help its digitally savvy students succeed.

Summon Search and Databases

Navigating the Syracuse University Libraries homepage, you will come across the search bar: “Summon Searches Almost Everything.” This is not hyperbole. Summon is a search engine for research materials containing (almost) all available academic materials within the University’s databases. With Summon, you can do a basic search or an “advanced search,” where you can narrow down results by content type, area of study, language, etc. Where the “almost” fails you, you can search any of the 719 library databases directly. Databases are also accessible from the Libraries homepage. For a deeper dive into the magic that is Summon, check out the Libraries’ “Summon Help” webpage.

Help and How-To Guides

Under the “Get Help” tab on the Libraries’ website, you will find “Help and How-To Guides,” your one-stop shop for clarification and comprehension. The name is self-explanatory, and the webpage is designed to make finding the answers to your questions as easy as possible. Here, you can find how-to guides on a variety of topics—from Syracuse University’s libraries, as well as helpful tutorials and articles from other institutions. Some examples include “Citation Style Guides,” “Help for Project Advance (SUPA) and Distance Students,” “Searching with Summon” and “Introduction to Research Strategy.”

“Ask Us” and Subject Librarians

Have a burning literary or research question that ABSOLUTELY needs to get answered NOW?! You can calm down; Syracuse University Libraries has you covered. Also, under the “Get Help” tab on the Libraries’ homepage is the “Ask Us” feature, where students can text or LiveChat with a librarian 24/7. If the issue is less urgent, students can email the library staff directly from the “Ask Us” webpage and are guaranteed an answer within one business day.

Similarly, students can speak with specific subject librarians. Every school and college at Syracuse University has a subject librarian who can answer their major- or subject-specific questions and direct students to relevant resources. The list of subject librarians and how to contact them can be found on the Libraries website under the “Get Help” tab on the homepage.

Research Guides and Services

Syracuse University librarians do not mess around when it comes to research. They have curated guides for over 60 topics broken down by subject, many corresponding to student’s major fields of study. Before you even navigate to such a list, however, check out the Libraries’ “Research Services” webpage that breaks down the research process into digestible sections. This handy page outlines and explains the goals and expected outcomes of each step of your research journey.

Borrowing: Books and Tech

Finally, what if you want to continue your research at home, but currently lack a computer or textbook to do so? Not a problem! Syracuse University students can borrow books, computers, accessories and more from the library. Students can check out books for up to a semester and technology for 3 hours at a time, with the option to request long-term electronics rentals, which are 14-day loan periods available at an additional cost. The Check Out Desk, located on the first floor of Bird Library and second floor of Carnegie Library is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday. More information on borrowing from Syracuse University Libraries can be found on the Libraries’ website.

So, next time you’re sitting in Bird Library with your friends “studying,” “writing” or “doing homework,” take a break from socializing and check out the Syracuse University Libraries’ online and in-person resources! Trust me, they’re actually really cool.

Written by Cecelia Kersten ’23, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.