A Closer Look at the Building with the Books: The Charles V. Park Library

The Charles V. Park Library first opened its doors in 1969. The 173,500-square-foot structure, named after notable librarian Charles V. Park, is about three times as large as the former library located in Ronan Hall and cost $4.2 million to erect.

In the early 2000s, the library was renovated and expanded at a cost of $50 million. It was reopened to the public in 2002 with updated features and an enormous selection of research materials.

Today, the library has over 300 computers for students, faculty and the general public to use for their research or printing needs. It has over three million books and scholarly journals on its shelves, with millions more available through their online resources. Current issues of magazines, periodicals, newspapers and books for recreational reading are found on the third floor in the Mary Dow Reading Room. Books a professor has put on reserve for their class can also be found at the course reserve desk in Mary Dow.

With so many informational and technological resources within Park Library, we wanted to know how much of it is utilized by visitors and when they are using it.

A survey of 44 Central Michigan University students, faculty and librarians found that 15 percent use the library almost daily. Thirteen percent use the library a few times a week, 20 percent use it a few times a month and another 15 percent rarely use it or have never used it. A vast majority at 38 percent use the library only a few times a semester – when major papers or projects are assigned.

Despite these numbers, students still have many questions about the library and what it has to offer.

Tim Peters, one of the many reference librarians available to students in the Park Library, said that the reference librarians are always available to help students via email, phone, Ask A Librarian, in person at the reference desk and through individual consultations.

Peters also stressed that while there are a lot of quality and authoritative sources on the web, “most of the primary and secondary sources professors want students to use for papers and projects are only accessible via library-owned or library-subscribed databases, eJournal packages, eBooks, streaming video collections and other materials.”

Stephanie Mathson and Aparna Zambare who are also reference librarians within Park Library stress that they work with instructors to help build a library collection to meet the academic needs of the students.

But, librarians aren’t the only resource Park Library has to offer students, either.

On the fourth floor, tucked into their own little niche, are the Writing Center and the Math Assistance Center.

The Writing Center is a great resource for students who may have trouble editing their own papers. The students who work there are a great source for a second opinion and another set of eyes reviewing your work for errors you may have missed. Students can make appointments to meet with a student within the center or they can come during their walk-in hours.

The Math Assistance Center is available to help students who struggle with the subject – from College Algebra to Advanced Calculus and beyond. Students are free to walk in without an appointment and typically get assistance right away.

Park Library also has 60 study rooms available for group or individual studying.

Students can check out rooms at the book checkout desk for up to two hours. The study rooms are equipped with dry erase boards for visual learners to write out their notes and others come with televisions where students can hook up their laptops and project what’s on their screens onto the TV.

We hope that by now you’ve tried some of the many things that the Park Library has to offer, but if not we hope we’ve convinced you enough to give it a try.

For more information on the Park Library and all it has to offer, please visit their website.


The reference desk at the Charles V. Park Library is a great resource for students who are struggling to find information. (Photo I Sam Porter)
The reference desk at the Charles V. Park Library is a great resource for students who are struggling to find information. (Photo I Sam Porter)