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Classical Whines: In Praise Of ReCAP

have you ever noticed how every single room in Butler is completely full of books along their walls? this is Ref

Classical Whines is back! Bwog’s resident Classics major and Editor in Chief Youngweon Lee talks about how awesome ReCAP is.

In case you haven’t noticed, Columbia is not exactly a school with a lot of space to spare. This problem manifests itself in many areas, such as the lack of classroom space, but one other way this is a headache for the university is that it ran out of space to store books 18 years ago, in 2000.

According to the American Library Association, Columbia University Libraries (as in the entire library system, not just Butler) is the eighth largest library in the country by the number of volumes held (as of 2012). The library system currently holds about 13 million volumes as well as journals, electronic resources, etc. That’s a lot of books.

So long story short, it turns out the NYPL was also running out of space for books, so Columbia, NYPL, and Princeton teamed up to build a giant warehouse in New Jersey to store and share books. Here’s a great feature on this from The Eye if you want to know the long story long, but that’s not the purpose of this article. I just want to praise this system, called ReCAP (Research Collections and Preservation Consortium), which added 7 million volumes to Columbia’s currently available collection.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the Classics, since this is a Classical Whine, it’s because Classics majors such as myself check out books from libraries and it’s really helpful when I have access to virtually any book I could possibly need that’s ever been printed. Between Columbia’s collections and ReCAP, I’ve always been able to find any book I ever needed. I’ve never even had to use InterLibrary Loan or Borrow Direct. Also I used ReCAP to check out a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology once, so this definitely counts as a Classical Whine.

I also don’t quite know how ILL and Borrow Direct work, but it is my understanding that they are a bit more clunky, you have to fill out a separate form, and it takes up to two weeks to receive the book. ReCAP is more convenient in that you can literally just click “request volume,” choose a library to request it to, and receive in about a day or two. I’ve always gotten my off-site requests on the next business day. This is arguably even easier than checking it out from, say, Butler stacks, because you don’t have to go through the stacks and find the book yourself; it’s delivered right to the circulation desk and you just have to go claim it. See the below gallery for a step-by-step guide on how to borrow a book from the off-site collection.

This is also super useful if you need a book for a class but every copy that Columbia has is checked out by your classmates. Note that you don’t even have to borrow books for school to take full advantage of this. When I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown at the end of last semester, I ordered a deck of tarot cards on a whim, and had to learn how to actually use them to procrastinate studying for my finals. I didn’t want to pay for the expensive accompanying tarot manual book, so I borrowed it from the off-site collection via ReCAP, and now I (sort of) know how to read tarot cards.

Returning books from ReCAP is just as easy as checking them out. You just dump them in the book return boxes like you would any book you borrowed from Butler.

Today’s Italian wine recommendation is Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, which is around $16, good with fish and meats, and “just rich and flavorful,” according to Leo. Drink responsibly and don’t drink if you’re underage!

ButRef and ReCAP Screenshots via Youngweon Lee

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  • William Keller says:

    @William Keller Borrow Direct is far from clunky. Ask for an update on its services; as Francie says they are fantastic.

  • Francie says:

    @Francie Borrow Direct is also a fantastic service that lets you borrow books and other materials from Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. Requested materials arrive within 4-5 business days.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The Columbia-Princeton-NY Public Library combined Library is now the largest academic research library in the world. Take advantage of the great collections.

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