Finals Week Tips: How the Libraries Can Help

Whether you’re finishing up a paper or project or studying for a final exam, here are some tips to help you finish the semester strong.

Student studying on a laptop while wearing white earbuds in front of colorful book shelf

Take advantage of the Libraries’ resources and helpful staff—near or far!

Reach out to your Liaison Librarian
Search by subject to find an expert librarian who specializes in your topic or area of study! Then, simply schedule an appointment, or call/email your librarian for help finding resources or tools for your research.

Use Research Guides to find resources by topic
Stuck while searching for resources? You’re in luck! Our Research Guides cover over 265 specific topics, with curated recommendations on books, databases, streaming video, open access items, and more.

Find a quiet space
We’ve designated certain areas for quiet study, including:

  • Carnegie Library Reading Room
  • Quiet Reading Room, Bird Library – located on the Lower Level
  • Quiet Computing Area, Bird Library – located on the 2nd floor, computer workstations available
  • Plastics Pioneers Reading Room, Bird Library – located in Room 610 on the 6th floor
  • Safire Room, Bird Library – located in Room 605 on the 6th floor

Need even more privacy? Reserve an individual study room
Reserve individual study rooms in both Bird and Carnegie Libraries, available for up to 3-hours at a time. Plus, choose a room with technology equipment to ensure a quiet spot for an online class, presentation or exam!

Brush up on the research process, including how to cite sources
Check out the blog post below from Giovanna ColosiLibrarian for the School of Education, with helpful research tips and process recommendations, from narrowing your topic to correctly citing sources.

Virtually browse our online collections
Millions of items are available in our online collections, which can be searched through Summon.

For direct links to our online curated databases, visit:

Pick-up items from Bird Library
Borrow items from our physical circulating collections at the Check-Out desks, via UPS delivery, or through our contactless pick-up options at Bird Library, including new item pick-up lockers:

To request that an item to be held in a locker for you:

  1. Find the item in our catalog. Under Holdings Information, check that it is marked “Available,” and select “Request this item.”
  2. Select “Bird Library Lockers” as your Preferred Delivery Method
  3. Complete the remaining form and select “Submit Request.”
  4. You will receive an email with an access code and QR code to scan notifying you that your item is ready.
  5. Head to the lockers, located first floor of Bird Library at the Waverly Avenue entrance, and proceed to the touch screen display.
  6. Scan your QR code or enter the numbered access code, and your item’s designated locker will open automatically.

For assistance or accommodations, call 315.443.5727 or email circhelp@syr.edu.

Gray metal Item Pickup lockers with orange Libraries logo and Item Pickup stickers in Bird Library

Borrow technology items
Visit the Check-Out desks in both Bird and Carnegie Libraries to borrow technology equipment, like laptops, headphones with microphones, and calculators. Most items are available for 3 hours, with limited quantities of laptops available for extended loan (14-days).

Request scanning or electronic delivery
Looking for a specific physical book from the Libraries? No problem. Anyone with a valid SU or SUNY-ESF ID can request a digital copy of journal articles or book chapters from our physical collections at Bird Library, Carnegie Library, or King+King Architecture Library.

To request a digital copy of an item:

  1. Log into SU Libraries’ Interlibrary Loan system.
  2. On the left side of the page, select “New Request” then “Article or Book Chapter.”
  3. Complete the form then Submit Request. Note that copyright law limits how much we can copy in some circumstances.
  4. Once the item is scanned, it will be electronically delivered to you.

Graduating? Here’s how we can continue to help!
Congratulations and great job! The Libraries offers some familiar resources to SU alumni, plus new resources to meet your information needs.

Contact us!
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Libraries with any questions. Our staff are ready to provide remote support to point you in the right direction. Simply choose the method that works best for you:

Don’t forget to take a break!

Self-care is important, so remember to get up often, drink plenty of water, talk with friends and family, and take part in campus partners’ study break events throughout finals week—like meditations with Hendricks Chapel, ice skating, e-sports, and more through the Barnes Center! The Barnes Center at the Arch staff is also here to help and support you every step of the way with counseling and other health services.

Your local public library also offers tons of free leisure material, from fiction and fantasy to e-books and audiobooks! Below, John Stawarz, Online Learning Librarian, gives his tips and how-tos for accessing all of these relaxing resources!

The end is in sight! After a long and uncertain semester, we’re proud of all you’ve accomplished—and you should be proud, too! From your friends in the Libraries: best of luck on finals, and have a relaxing and restful winter break!


New to Researching?

Six tips to help you along the process!

By Giovanna R. Colosi, Librarian for the School of Education

Tip #1  REFINE YOUR RESEARCH TOPIC

Choosing your topic is the first step in the research process. There may be times when the general topic is chosen for you, and other times you will have the flexibility to choose one of your liking.  Either way it may not be an easy process.  It must be narrow and unique enough to be interesting, yet broad enough for you to find sufficient information.

Begin researching with “broad” resources such as encyclopedias and Google to familiarize yourself with the subject more and better understand your topic.

Keep in mind certain things like the length of your paper, the number of citations required, and how much time you have to research.

Tip #2 BEGIN YOUR SEARCH

Use the Syracuse Libraries website to locate books/eBooks, journals, periodicals, newspapers, and other types of media. We have several databases to help you with your search.  A good place to begin is SUMMON.  

You may also check with your school or college librarian’s research guide.  These guides are curated by our librarians based on subject specific areas.  

Tip #3 CAREFULLY CHOOSE YOUR SEARCH TERMS

  • Keywords: Use the most precise words to define your topic including synonyms and alternate terms, such as abbreviations and scientific terms.
  • Use controlled vocabulary: Database descriptors, the Library of Congress Subject Headings, or a thesaurus to help you find more words for your search.
  • Use advanced search techniques:
    • Truncation is used to expand results by instructing the computer to look for the root of the word and all alternate word endings. An * (asterisk) may substitute for any number of characters at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.

Example: Child* Retrieves child, child’s, childhood, children, etc.

  • Boolean Operators: AND, OR, and NOT may be used to combine key words in database searching.  Using Boolean operators can make your search more focused and generate more accurate results.
    • Use AND to retrieve records containing only all search terms.  AND will reduce and refine the results. 
    • Use OR to retrieve records containing one, both or all of the search terms.  OR will expand the search and retrieve more results.
    • Use NOT to exclude terms in a search.  Be cautious when using NOT, useful search results may be omitted.
  • Phrase Searching. Some databases and search engines will allow the use of “quotations” to search for an exact phrase or words together in a paragraph or sentence. 
  • Some databases have a “help” function. Utilize these when you get stuck.

Tip #4  CAREFULLY AND CORRECTLY CITE YOUR SOURCES

  • Take detailed notes, maintain a spreadsheet with pertinent information, or print out full references for bibliographies. Use a method of record keeping that is comfortable and easy for you.
  • Cite all sources using the appropriate style, whether APA, MLA, etc.
  • Consider using a citation management tool, like MENDELEY or ZOTERO.

Tip #5  CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE INFORMATION THAT YOU FIND

  • Is the resource valuable, well written, up to date, and at an appropriate level for your need?
  • If you need scholarly sources for your research, make sure resources are scholarly and peer evaluated.
  • Remember not everything you read on the internet is factual. If you see something that seems fishy, check what site it came from.  If you are still in doubt, ask a librarian!

Tip #6  OBTAIN HELP WHENEVER YOU NEED IT

  • Use the Libraries 24/7 Chat feature.
  • Ask a librarian for assistance.
  • Finally, if you are on campus, come into one of our Libraries for assistance!