It’s a fixture in the lives of UH students, looming at the end of McCarthy Mall, usually uttered offhand as an obvious conclusion: “We go Hamilton?”

Established in 1968, Hamilton library is the largest research library in the state of Hawaiʻi. It has always been a go-to for students to study, research scholastic topics or just kill time while on campus. 

Though central to many students’ UH experience, the library boasts a handful of useful yet overlooked services and resources that many students may not even know about. 

For Access Services Department Chair Jean Thoulag, it all comes down to “spaces, collections, services and people.”

First there’s the obvious — study spaces. Hamilton Library’s capacity and spaces for student work may be the most well-known draw. Students can be found making use of the library’s tables, collaborative study spaces and private rooms at all hours of the library's operating times. Whether it’s finals week or a random Saturday night, you can bet someone is going to get to that last study room right before you can reserve it. 

Students can also take advantage of the library without being there. Hamilton houses a wealth of e-books — to the tune of 170 thousand — as well as Kanopy, a university-centered academic streaming site consisting of films and documentaries. The site even features movies from the Criterion Collection, as well as popular releases like Donnie Darko, Parasite and Moonlight. 

One of the most widely accessible features of the library is its loanable technology selection. The library offers various pieces of equipment for students to borrow: chargers, adapters, cameras, calculators and even portable green screens. 

Loanable technology shows off how Hamilton’s resources go beyond just the educational, something the library’s staff hopes to emphasize. Student Records Assistant Kaila Flores assists students at the front desk and handles much of the library’s loanable technology — from digital cameras to projectors. Chargers and record players. 

“I just had a dinner with my friends, and we were listening to records and watched a movie with a projector,” Flores said. “And I just borrowed it all from the library! It was nice. Really high-quality things.”

Also in the loanable technology section are ʻukuleles, hess sets, GoPro accessories, ring lights and Bluetooth speakers — items students can use for things outside of schoolwork. 

“We want to support students in their academic work,” Thoulag said. “But you have time off too.”

Also present are the library’s various collections, which play a large role in maintaining UH’s reputation as a research institution. The school holds an R1 designation among research schools — the highest ranking, indicating very high research activity, and one only 146 institutions hold. 

Hamilton Library even offers a scholarship for students who make use of their collections. The “Library Treasures” scholarship is available to any student who creates a project that involves the use of library collections.

In addition to a focus on cultural studies the library also hosts several art collections. Just across the Hawaiian and Pacific Collection on the fifth floor of Hamilton Library lies the Jean Charlot Collection, named after the French artist who taught at UH for 30 years. 

The Jean Charlot Collection consists of works donated by Charlot’s widow in 1983 for the use of staff and students. The collection consists mainly of the artist's prints and drawings, as well as Charlot’s personal collections. One hidden treasure in the collection is a letterhead from Walt Disney thanking Charlot for a series of lectures he gave animators at Disney Studios.

Although many of the rare items in the Charlot collection may not make it into the hands of an undergraduate student, classes like Professor John Szostak’s ART 176 course provide an opportunity for students to check out some of Carlot’s works up close. 

“There’s interesting things behind closed doors,” Thoulag said. “Just don’t be afraid to ask.”