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The Library: an Unsung National Treasure

By Vivian Mason

The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) James A. Zimble Learning Resource Center is a treasure trove of valuable information to university personnel and alumni, whether here on campus or deployed to a forward operating base in Afghanistan. Many a USU student has spent countless hours studying in one of the double-decker cubicles or tucked away in a quiet corner on an upper floor. It’s a sanctuary, where faculty immerse themselves in pursuit of knowledge of illness, injury, healing and discovery.

For most of us, though, a library is more than just a study location, reference site or a book repository -- a library evokes special thoughts or memories from childhood or college, offers comfort and hope, and fosters a thirst for knowledge.

We asked a few members of the USU community: “Tell us how the library led to something of value in your life” or “Where did the library lead you?”


The library has been a source of consistency and comfort for our family, especially during numerous permanent changes of station. Whenever we relocate to a new assignment, one of the first things we do is get library cards and borrow books for the kids.
Army 2nd Lt.Dmitriy Treyster
Class of 2021

My dad and I have been going to our local library since before I could read on my own. Even after we discovered that we have different tastes in books, we've always shared our love of reading. Decades later, we are still discovering new books to read and new stories to bond over.
Navy Ens. Emily Diana
Class of 2021

When I was a kid, my grandfather used to take me and my siblings to the library everyday after school. Initially, I hated it. Gradually, I met older kids there. Through them, I was introduced to the Cam Jansen book series. I connected most with the plights and adventures of The Boxcar Children. We both lived parts of our lives without our parents, and I felt like they could understand me when my peers and teachers could not. Through reading, I felt hope and empowerment to continue battling through the adversities of poverty. The library helped me imagine a life that was better. As I grew older, the free Internet and access to books helped save me more than $3,000 while attending UC Berkeley. I didn’t buy books in college because the library always had two or three copies of every textbook I ever needed, and they were always available to use unless it was one week out from midterms. Inadvertently, I found myself practicing good adult learning by studying small amounts daily, learning information over time, and avoiding those crazy cramming sessions two days before a test. The library became my go-to place for perspective and study. No matter how my life evolves, I know I can always count on the library being there for me.
Navy Ens. Peter Ng
Class of 2019

aisle of books in a library.

At my undergraduate university, the library seemed largely inconsequential. This is absolutely not the case at USU. I have been conducting research for the past several months, and the Learning Resource Center has been invaluable. Library resources have offered comprehensive access to materials without which I could not have completed my work. It is, and continues to be, a phenomenal and indispensable resource.
Army 2nd Lt. Michael Able
Class of 2019

Libraries have always felt safe and comforting to me. I love the quiet, wonderful smell of books. When I was in grade school, I would spend Saturday in downtown Baltimore at the Enoch Pratt Free Library doing a research paper. It was reassuring to know that I could always find all the information I needed there. In college, the library was also a meeting place to see friends, but still with the option for solitude in your cubicle in the “stacks.” When I was a first-year medical student at Georgetown Medical School, I would especially enjoy studying my medical texts at the Library of Congress. I doubt I learned better there, but the surroundings were breathtaking!
Beth Aronson, M.D.
Assistant Professor, OB/GYN

I hope to have a library someday, but until that day comes, I borrow books. I love being surrounded by books and journals. I believe that you can take a journey through time there. The library at USU gives me a place I sometimes like to think of as my own. Study rooms are my office, and cubicles are my cave. However, my favorite part of the library is the free candy at the front desk. Whoever refills that bowl every day needs a raise.
Air Force 2nd Lt. Ryan Rhie
Class of 2019

students in study alcoves at the library

My parents were teachers, so I often spent a lot of time around lots and lots of books. My very first job was as a page at my local library, where I helped to catalog and sort books and music. In college, I was able to provide input into a library redesign that included more group study space, and I couldn’t have finished my capstone project without the help of the fantastic research librarians. I love the concept of libraries as community resource centers that serve all people. I’ve been excited to see that many libraries continue to adapt and expand their services to offer access to new technologies, like audio and video recording and 3-D printing.
Public Health Service Ens. Quinn Bott
Class of 2020

I’m at home at the library. During my educational journey from Bachelor’s degree to doctorate, I learned to love the library for all the opportunities it brings. It was a safe place to think and ponder all the possibilities. It was a common space to meet hard-working classmates for marathon study sessions that were building blocks to achieving our commencement goal. But, most importantly, the library was where I learned to appreciate the librarians who made my life much easier through literature searches, training, and academic support. They’re the true gems.
Air Force Col. Candy Wilson
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner/Nurse Scientist
Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Nursing

When I was a child, the public library in my small town was located in a converted Victorian house complete with turret. I often felt like I was having a storybook adventure as I climbed the stairs up the turret to the children's department. My parents let me ride my bike to the library, which led to many independent adventures and a lot of Nancy Drew and Babysitter's Club books. When I headed off to college, it seemed like an obvious choice to want to become a librarian and later to specialize in Archives.
Emelie Rubin
University Archivist, James A. Zimble Learning Resource Center