For all you book lovers out there, Storrs Center has a secret: Located in the back corner inside the Nash-Zimmer Transportation Center lies a tiny one-room library.
UConn’s Homer Babbidge Library has a decent selection of casual reading books, but it’s not the best. Their reading room is good for finding new titles to read, but if you need a specific book in a series, want to reread some childhood favorites or are looking for a particular title of interest, you’ll probably be out of luck. Mansfield Library isn’t convenient if you don’t have a car, and when I was here last summer with nothing to do at my job but read, I had no idea what to do unless I wanted to take an Uber to the library.
And that’s when I found out about the Mansfield Library Express.
It’s a smaller version of the Mansfield Library, and it might just be my favorite thing ever. It’s one room and located across the street from Blaze Pizza, so you’ve definitely walked past it without noticing. But it’s actually really cool! It’s home to a selection of current and popular book titles. Not only that, but they have a variety of movies, too. A lot of them are movies that just left theaters and were put on DVDs, which means you can grab some friends and watch all those movies you meant to see but didn’t, and you get to do it both free and legally.
All you need to use the library is a library card, and it doesn’t even have to be one from the Mansfield Library. If you have a card from your hometown in Connecticut, due to the state’s BorrowIT CT program that connects 192 of our public libraries, you can use it there. If you don’t, UConn students can sign up for a card for free.
My favorite part of the mini library, however, is the reserve feature. Since it has a small selection of books, and since our state libraries are connected by BorrowIT CT, you can get any book you want shipped there. If you reserve it online, Mansfield will send it over to Storrs Center from its main library, and if they don’t have it, a library in the state that does will send it over.
You can then head down to Storrs Center, check out your books and even return them there, too. You don’t even have to do the latter when the library is open; they have a drop box for returns.
As a student, I do everything in my power to save money, and having the ability to get any book I want in my fingertips within a week—for free, no less—is pretty neat. I’ve even checked out a couple of novels for my English classes or gen-eds.
I think a lot of people have forgotten about libraries these days, but they’re still valuable resources. Sometimes, libraries are some of the only places in towns that have free air conditioning or heat, free WiFi and don’t charge you to spend time there. Not to mention, a lot have free classes on a variety of skills from sewing to paying taxes to cooking to who knows what else. They also offer free computer access to a world where everyone is expected to have one, which sadly isn’t the reality for a lot of people. Funding is getting cut everywhere, and if people continue to forget about their libraries, these cuts are only going to get worse.
So check it out! The Mansfield Library Express is a hidden gem in Storrs Center, and it’s one of my favorite places on campus. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. It’s a good place to disappear to and even offers tables and chairs to study in. The workers will be happy for your visit, and maybe you’ll rediscover an old love for reading while you’re at it.
Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.