Ask a Librarian

 Find what you need in our searchable FAQ

If the library doesn't have a book I need, how do I get it?

2274 views   |   Last updated on Nov 15, 2018    borrowing books interlibrary loan

  1. Use the Library Catalog to find books and e-books that are available at the MCLA library and from our partner libraries in HELM.
  2. Use the Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat) to find books that are available statewide in Massachusetts.
  3. Use WorldCat to search for books and ebooks held by libraries worldwide. Use the 'Request on Interlibrary Loan" button to request the item from another library.
  4. Get an ecard from the Boston Public Library to access all of Boston Public Library's remotely-accessible electronic resources, including magazine databases, downloadable audio, video, eBooks, and music. Students living in Massachusetts while attending school are eligible for a card. Go to the BPL's eCard site to sign up for one.
  5. Use the Williams College library. Before you head over to Williams to borrow books you must come to the reference desk MCLA Freel Library and get the appropriate paperwork to borrow from Williams. Williams will not allow you to check out books without this paperwork. Faculty can borrow books directly from Williams College with their faculty ID card.
  6. Use our Book Request Form if you can't find the item in any of the ways listed above.
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What time is the library open? What time does the library close?

1677 views   |   Last updated on Dec 14, 2018    library building hours

The current library hours can be found on our website and at this page.  For the most accurate information, please check there.

In general, these are our hours during the academic year. 

Day Open Closed
Monday-Thursday     07:30 am        Midnight
Friday 07:30 am     07:00 pm
Saturday 11:00 am 07:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am Midnight
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Does the library have a scanner/color printer?

1582 views   |   Last updated on Dec 14, 2018    scanner color printer

Yes, there is a scanner on the main floor of the library. If you need assistance using it, ask at the library front desk.

Color printing can be done at the copy center for a charge by bringing over a file on a flash drive.

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Can I access the library research databases or borrow books if I am an MCLA alumni?

1572 views   |   Last updated on Mar 18, 2020    research databases

After you graduate from MCLA, you are welcome to come to Freel Library during our regular hours to use its resources.  Many of our online journal databases, including the EBSCO and Gale databases, and JSTOR are accessible on through guest internet access.  We recommend that you email or download to a flash drive any articles you want copies of.  Due to the limitations of our licenses with the database vendors, we are not able to offer alumni off-campus access to any of our subscription databases. 

If you want to borrow books, you will need a valid MCLA community borrower library card or you may be able to borrow our books with your public library card through the Commonwealth Catalog. We are unable to provide interlibrary loan services to alumni but your local library will be able to help you locate and borrow books and other materials.

Library Resources for Massachusetts Residents

Massachusetts Libraries Web Site

Residents of Massachusetts can access online journal article databases, ebooks and audiobooks with their local public library card. They can also request materials from member libraries, which will be delivered to their home library to be picked up at their convenience.  MCLA's Freel Library is part of this interlibrary loan system and we loan our circulating materials to libraries all across Massachusetts. For information on accessing these resources, please contact your local library.  For more information on accessing these resources, check the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Statewide Databases FAQ page. Access to these resources in funded by local townS, the MBLC, the Massachusetts Library System and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Boston Public Library eResources

People who live, work or go to school in Massachusetts can sign up for an ecard which will allow them to remotely access additional digital resources, including ebooks, magazines, journals and newspapers, from the Boston Public Library.  To sign up for your ecard, go here. Your local public library card will not give you access to the Boston Public Library resources.

Library Resources for Residents of Other States

If you are not a resident of Massachusetts, we recommend that you contact your local public library. They will be able to direct you to any statewide resources in your state similar to those offered in Massachusetts.
Below are links to the state libraries in New England and New York.  If your state is not listed, Google the name of your state and "state library".

New Hampshire
New York State Library
Rhode Island - Office of Library and Information Services

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What is the difference between a scholarly peer reviewed journal and a popular magazine? How do I find scholarly articles?

1570 views   |   Last updated on Jul 03, 2018    magazines journals articles research databases

When conducting research, scholars often rely on articles from scholarly journals rather than popular magazines. These are often referred to as scholarly or peer-reviewed resources.

Scholarly resources are written by scholars in a particular subject area for other scholars in that subject area (that includes you!). These articles go through what's called a "peer-review" process where other scholars read and examine the articles for quality of research before they are published. For the most part, you can rely on scholarly resources to be credible and reliable sources for your research.

Popular magazines or news websites are written by reporters who are experts on reporting and writing but not necessarily on the subject matter of their article. Articles written for these publications are written for a wider audience who has not background in the subject matter. Popular writing often cites scholarly writing.

For more information on scholarly sources, watch these videos and refer to this chart to help you identify the difference between scholarly and popular articles.


Finding Scholarly Articles in Databases

You can limit your search in the databases to only display search results that are scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. Below are examples.

The JSTOR database contains only scholarly articles so there is no limiter in that database. 

Search Everything & EBSCO databases - on the search results screen check off the Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals box under "Limit to" on the left hand side

Gale - Gale is a 2-step process. First choose "Academic Journals" then choose "Peer-Reviewed Journals" on the right hand side.

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How do I renew my books?

1353 views   |   Last updated on May 15, 2018    borrowing books renewals

To renew your checked out items, log in to your account with your barcode number from your student ID card and your password. If it is your first time logging in, your password is your date of birth in YYYYMMDD format. If you have trouble logging in, please contact us.

Please note that some items may not be able to be renewed.
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Can students borrow books from Williams College?

1248 views   |   Last updated on May 04, 2018    borrowing books williams college interlibrary loan

Yes you can! Before you head over to Williams College to borrow books though, you have to come to the reference desk MCLA Freel Library and speak to a reference librarian about your research needs. The librarian will help you search our collection for appropriate resources first and give you the appropriate paperwork to borrow from Williams. Williams will not allow you to check out books without this paperwork with you so please make sure you see us first.
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How are books arranged in the library? How do I find a book on the shelf?

1222 views   |   Last updated on Jul 03, 2018    borrowing books finding books

The library uses the Library of Congress Classification system. The books are organized by subject so you can browse the shelves and find books on a similar subject together.

  • Call numbers that begin with A thru Z are on the 3rd floor (except for P)
  • Call numbers that begin with P are on the 1st floor basement level.
  • Call numbers that start with N are in the quiet study area to the right at the top of the stairs to the 3rd floor.
  • Call numbers that start with JUV are in the Children's Room on the 1st floor basement level.
  • Call numbers with REF are on the main floor.
  • Magazines, journals, microfilm, newspapers and DVDs are all on the main floor.
  • Electronic books and videos do not have call numbers. They have links to the book or video.

Here are examples from the catalog and from Search Everything. The call number is highlighted. This is the number you would right down and bring the the shelves to look for the book. On the book it is displayed as:


art of fielding in catalog with call number highlighted

art of fielding in search everything with call number highlighted

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Where are the bathrooms in the library?

1130 views   |   Last updated on Jul 20, 2017    library building bathrooms

There are public bathrooms upstairs in the library at the top of the stairs, and downstairs through the doors and to the right.
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How do I find articles in the library databases?

1085 views   |   Last updated on Jul 19, 2017    articles research databases

For a list of all of our databases, both by subject and by name, visit our Database A-Z list.  For more information on searching the databases, watch the video below.

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As a student, how long can I check materials out of the library?

1082 views   |   Last updated on May 04, 2018    borrowing books fines borrowing videos

MCLA books are loaned out to students, community borrowers, and HELM patrons for 28 days. MCLA materials may be renewed unless requested by another patron.

Videos and DVDs from the Popular Viewing Collection are loaned overnight only. Only one video or DVD can be borrowed at a time.

DVDs in the MCLA media collection can only be borrowed by faculty. Students can watch them in the library on their laptop, on the TV in the children's room, or on the library's portable DVD player (just ask for it at the desk) .

Items that are on reserve can only be used in the library.

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Do you issue library cards to Berkshire County residents?

1070 views   |   Last updated on Mar 18, 2020    borrowing books library card

The MCLA Freel Library only issues library cards to students, staff, and faculty of MCLA. If you are a resident of North Adams or contiguous towns you may be able to get a community borrowing card, please check at the desk.

Berkshire County residents may also borrow books from our library by using their public library card to access the Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat).

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Does the library offer any tools to create citations and works cited pages?

1045 views   |   Last updated on May 04, 2018    works cited citations writing

The library does not offer a specific tool to create citations. There are many free or for a fee tools out there for individual use, but the library does not endorse a specific one. 

Our Citing Sources Guide has a lot of information on how to cite and where to find examples of citations.

The Perdue OWL site is also a great place to find citation examples and rules.

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Can I download a library eBook?

1002 views   |   Last updated on Jan 22, 2020    borrowing books eBooks

Yes, you can! We have information on downloading both Overdrive and EBSCO eBooks on our Apps for Research and Writing Guide. If you have any questions about the initial setup of your device for downloading books or any problems downloading, please contact us. We'll be happy to help!
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Can I use Google to do research for a paper?

977 views   |   Last updated on Jan 29, 2019    articles research google writing

While you can use Google as part of your research process, it isn't the best place to do all of your research. Google does not include most academic journals that have the level of research you want in order to write your paper. However, Google is a great place to start your research. You can use Google to get background information on your topic and get a broad overview of what  you are looking for before you search for academic articles in the library databases. This will help you do a more efficient search in the databases because you'll have a better idea of what you are looking for and what is most relevant.

Google can be a great resource for things such as blogs, podcasts, digital collections, and other items that aren't in the library databases. When you use Google, you want to make sure that the websites you are using for research are reliable, authoritative, and relevant.  Use the Evaluate Websites section of our College Writing guide to help you evaluate your websites. A few things you want to be looking at is who wrote the page (what their affiliation and credentials are), how frequently it is updated, and if there is bias to the page.

If you like the Google interface and want to use it for your research we recommend Google Scholar. Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. Look on the right hand side of the screen for the "Full-Text@MCLA" links that will bring you to the article in one of our databases. You can also look for the free PDFs listed on the right hand side. The best tool in Google Scholar is the citation link under each result. This will show you other articles that cited that article in their references. If you find a great article, be sure to check what else has cited it for more relevant results.

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How can I get help from a librarian with my research?

975 views   |   Last updated on Jan 29, 2019    research

We would love to help you with your research! That's our favorite thing to do! There are a few different ways to get help:

When you get in touch, please give us the name of the class and a brief description of the assignment you are working on so that we can provide the very best assistance.


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Does my instructor have books on reserve?

965 views   |   Last updated on May 04, 2018    borrowing books reserve

If your instructor has put books on reserve they will be available for library use only at the circulation desk. Not all instructors put books on reserve. To check what books are on reserve for a class, use our online course reserves page. Choose Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts from the drop-down and do a search for your class or instructor.
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I am not a student at MCLA but can I come in and access the Internet on your computers?

965 views   |   Last updated on Mar 18, 2020   

While we do not have open Internet access on our library computers, you can go to the IT help Desk on the first floor of Murdock Hall and get guest access to the MCLA internet.
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Does the library have fiction, any fun books to read?

950 views   |   Last updated on Mar 18, 2020    leisure reading fiction

The library does have fiction. Most fiction is in the P section, specifically PR and PS which is found in the Language and Literature Room on the lower level of the library.

We also have a lot of fiction available as ebooks through our Overdrive subscription. Take a look at our guide for more information.

If you are looking for a particular fiction book and we don't have it, you can check if another library in Massachusetts owns the book and request to have it delivered to you. To do this go to the Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat) and do a search. Use your A number (on your ID card) and password (if it is your first time using this, it is your date of birth (YYYYMMDD). The book will be delivered to the MCLA library within a few days. If you have any trouble logging in, contact us.

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Does the library have popular, non-academic DVDs to borrow?

923 views   |   Last updated on May 04, 2018    dvds

Yes, we have lots of popular DVDs to borrow. You can browse the display on the main floor of the library (go past the circulation desk and take a right, they are on the wall there) or you can search for a particular title. The DVDs are shelved alphabetically but if you don't see the one you are looking for, ask at the desk. We have some out back because they don't all fit on the shelf. You may check out one DVD at a time for one day.
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