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There are many benefits of using a library for research: wide range of reference materials; librarian helpers; isolated focus; room for collaborators; multiple computers in same area; people to meet; travel broadens the mind; etc.

"Range of reference materials": Probably the best benefit would be the range of reference materials, such as multiple professional encyclopedias, numerous books, and thousands of magazines on file. You can use library computers, even with the internet, to get a title or ISBN book number, then retrieve that from a shelf. Despite the vastness of the Internet, large libraries typically have far more scholarly books, but the Internet typically has much more trivia.

"Librarian helpers": depending on the situation, the librarians might be able to help your research. Perhaps they know the best books, or an in-house expert, or can tell you when books might be available at the library.

"Isolated focus": For many people, just getting away from home or work, to avoid distractions, might be the best benefit of a library. Few TV or phone interruptions to destroy deep concentration when trying to analyze information. However, know your library: if the area is swamped with young kids at that time, the distractions might become worse. However, some large libraries have private "study rooms" to block out sights and sounds.

"Room for collaborators": If you're working with a group, such as trying to find sunken Spanish galleons, then a library might provide more space for everyone than at home or work. Each person could look for historical reports in different departments, then meet back to determine progress. Inside "study rooms" a few people could meet and hold a private conversation, without the whispering of main library rooms.

"Multiple computers in same area": Depending on hourly restrictions, a library can offer multiple computers, to allow all friends to use the computers at the same time, or to keep going if your home computer is broken or gets those Computer Viruses purposely allowed by computer companies to make you buy another computer or buy another anti-virus product. You might even be allowed to use 2 computers at the same time, displaying multiple windows on each screen: it's great to have one screen totally stable, while viewing various pages on another computer.

"People to meet": Other researchers might be found at the library, to offer suggestions for better books or whom else to ask. However, be careful not to get sidetracked off-topic: people can be very stubborn, and you must ask yourself, "Is this conversation 50-50, or am I a slave 90% to the other person's agenda?"

"Travel broadens the mind": Just roaming through various library rooms can be an awakening, similar to travelling the world. There is that cliche, "You think you know, but you have no idea." For example, in Cairo, Egypt, with 20 million people, someone might imagine terrible crimes about to happen since 20 million people are all around, but the culture is very strong against theft (or terrorism), and packages rarely get stolen in Egypt, compared to other places. Another example: in Tokyo crowded with over 9 million people, surely there would be city trash and fast-moving people too busy for politeness, but no: travel to Japan and see everyone sweeping sidewalks at their downtown stores, washing tires before entering streets, and notice how people politely dim their headlights toward other drivers while at redlights. Perhaps just as surprising, some libraries might contain mini-museums, paintings, or posters, beyond just books, journals or computers. Something about being at the library might change the whole perspective about the ongoing research.

Anyway, sometimes hanging out at a library can become addictive, leaving the everyday world behind, so be careful not to lose track of time, and try to keep everything in balance, overall. Good luck.

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2009-11-02 18:32:24
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Q: What are the benefits of using a library for research?
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