Last week, I wrote about taking all of the resources you could from your Canvas and Courseworks sites. But what if you want to learn about topics you don’t cover in class? It’s so hard to find time during your few years at Columbia to read about anything other than your courses, but as soon as you graduate, you can’t make the same use of the University’s ample resources. Here’s a quick guide to procrastinating by downloading full books and articles from Columbia’s library system so that you can read them ten years down the line.
Good CLIO Practices: CLIO’s Catalog may be the best starting point for using Columbia’s resources. Whenever you search, use the navigation bar on the left to narrow your terms. If you’re looking to download full books, set your format to search for “Book” and “Online.” Set the location to “Online” and the language to “English.” If you’re searching for a relatively obscure subject in academia (say, internet memes), you should use an “All Fields” search (the default search) to find that topic in the title, publication, or any other searchable area. If you’re looking for a more established topic (music, for instance), you may want to use a “Subject” search to weed out irrelevant works. When you find works that interest you, select them with the checkboxes on the left. Go to “Selected Items” in the upper right and click on “Add to My Saved List.” Keep your list going, and you can work on weeding through it downloading from it later on.
Sources Other than CLIO: CLIO will bring you to a lot of other websites – online libraries, journals, university presses, and more. If the website has its own search functions, try to use those! Also use other major databases such as JSTOR to find articles that may not come up on CLIO. You can even use Google to look for books and articles to see if Columbia has access to them for free. Lastly, consider using department-specific resources. If you study psychology, use CLIO to pull up psychology journals to dig through.
Full Downloads and Chapter Downloads: Many popular resources such as IEEE and Oxford may not allow full text downloads of books. However, they may allow downloads of each chapter. While it’s less convenient, you can still download each chapter as long as you keep them together. Set your browser’s download settings to allow you to name and locate files every time you download. Keep the chapters together in a folder, and number and name the chapters so that they stay in order.
Keeping Organized: Keep your list of sources on CLIO trimmed down by going through article abstracts and book summaries to make sure the sources you want to download are actually worth reading. When you download your books, actually name them and file them away so that you can use them several years down the line.
Image of a library better than Butler via Betsy Ladyzhets