9 Library Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know You Could Check Out

In today’s classroom, homework is no longer just books—you could be assigned to watch a film, read a comic, build a polymer, or film a video. The library has evolved along with the classroom. Here are just a few things you can check out in UO libraries across campus today:

1. Video games

That’s right—at the Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library, you can check out Grand Theft Auto V. That’s because video games aren’t just fun, science librarian Annie Zeidman-Karpinski says.

"We have video games because libraries have always been places that house stories,” Zeidman-Karpinski said, “and video games are a new way of telling stories."

2. Popular movies

Art films, documentaries, blockbusters, classics and more are available at Knight, the John E. Jaqua Law Library, or via online streaming through services like Kanopy. So whether you want to watch the Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night or Bruce Willis in Die Hard, the library has your back.

"Streaming services like Kanopy provide a wide range of material on subjects that range across the curriculum," said Mark Watson, the library's associate dean for research services.

3. TV shows 

The law library has TV shows for checkout because law students ask for them, says Law Library Director Mary Ann Hyatt. (However, the TV shows in the law library are available for checkout by UO students in any school or major.)

“Law students study intensely,” said Hyatt. “The law library promotes learning and provides diverse resources to ease the time crunch of being a student.”

4. Vinyl records

Knight Library has nearly 25,000 vinyl records in its LP collection—that’s almost every sound recording the library has collected from the 1950s to the advent of CDs in the 1990s, according to Ann Shaffer, the music and dance librarian at Knight Library. The collection has classical music and opera, jazz, rock, gospel, soul, world music, spoken word, and even sound effects. 

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that the majority of these vinyl recordings have never been re-released onto CD or MP3,” said Shaffer, “so there are a lot of treasures that you won’t find anywhere else.”

5. Graphic novels and manga

Read everything from Watchmen to One Piece in the Knight Library Popular Reading Collection. The libraries stock graphic novels because the medium is so approachable, according to Sara DeWaay, the art and architecture librarian at University of Oregon.

“A very large number of us started reading first with picture books, and we started out fairly early watching cartoons,” DeWaay said. “Graphic novels, comics, and manga are a comfort and a joy to read because of their familiarity. At the same time, they can tackle important issues in a way that is less threatening and more relatable than scholarly publications, making them an ideal medium to help with healing and educating.”

6. A GoPro

Make a time-lapse of you building your final project, a stop-motion animated film, or a snowboarding documentary with a GoPro from the UO Libraries’ Center for Media and Educational Technologies (CMET). The GoPro can really take a student project to the next level.

“We hope that students will think of these as b-roll footage tools,” says Ryan Rusby, CMET services coordinator. “A pianist might include a tight shot of their hands in a performance video. A painter might time-lapse a multiple day painting process. A Cinema Arts student might strap one to a remote control car to get that perfect shot for a final project. By mixing these trick shots with footage from a primary camera, students can create dynamic video presentations.”

7. A DIY Arduino kit

Build a robot, a 3D printer, a laser harp or millions of other things with the DIY Arduino kit at the UO Portland Library and Learning Commons or the Arduino microcontrollers at the DeArmond MakerSpace in the Price Science Commons and Research Library in Eugene. Arduino--a small computer you can program to do things through electronic sensors, lights, and motors--is a flexible, introductory technology that’s simple and rewarding to learn, according to Karen Munro, head of the Portland Library. 

“It can be used to make music from unlikely everyday items, or to control a light switch,” said Munro. “The basic concept of a circuit is essential to understanding more complex concepts in building systems, electronics, and other technologies.  We want our students to have the opportunity for hands-on learning as well as reading about these ideas in books.”

8. A “citizen journalism” kit (PDX)

From Arab Spring to Standing Rock, citizen journalists are giving us a street-level view of the world. That’s why the Portland Library and Learning Commons offers a kit to help you be one. The “citizen journalism kit” is a small collection of add-ons for smartphones that let students take more sophisticated photos and videos with their smartphones.

“We have journalism students who regularly go into the field to record footage and conduct interviews, and while they often use complex, expensive equipment for this, they also have the option of going lightweight with their phones,” said Karen Munro, head of the Portland Library. “Any student who has a phone can use the kit’s tripod, lenses, and remote to practice low-threshold videography or photography at a minimal cost.”

9. A VR headset 

Want to play Oculus Rift or experience a New York Times pilgrimage to Mecca in virtual reality? Come over to the science library. The Price Science Commons and Research Library has headsets that will hold a smart phone for use in app-related VR games or news videos. These are inexpensive units like upscale Google cardboard devices that create an immersive viewing environment, according to Dean Walton, science librarian at the Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library.

“They let people experience Virtual Reality on their own terms,” Walton said.