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How To...Get Started with Research

Searching for Articles (Use the Databases!)

In most cases, you will locate journal articles for your research by using tools called research databases -- large, electronic collections of references for articles of many different types and on many different topics, put in one place where you can search the whole collection. 

Unlike Google, which reads every word in every page of every document from beginning to end, the library catalog, and some of our research databases, can usually only see basic information about articles or books -- the titles, summaries, and maybe some subject keywords. This is why searching for sentences or entire phrases works in Google but not in the library resources.  

Searching for Books (Use the Catalog!)

Search the library catalog for books using keywords relating to your topics. Try to think of very "big picture" search terms to start. 

Record the call numbers of any books that look promising.

Whenever you look at a book in the library catalog,  you will see a list of subjects. You can think of these as 'tags' used to identify what the book is about. You will also see subjects used in this way in our research database. 

Do you see any subjects that might help lead you to other sources? Try clicking on a subject to bring up a list of all the books tagged with that keyword. You never know what you might find! 

For example, if you were reading about Japanese immigrants in Brazil, some subjects that you might see would be; 

Books at Dinand Library are arranged by Library of Congress Call Number. Call Numbers are used to find books in the library. Each book is assigned a call number made  up of letters and numbers, which acts like an address and tells you what shelves to look on.

  • Reference Books are in the Main Reading Room. These books must stay in the library.
  • Books whose numbers begin with letters A through G are on the Mezzanine level (1 floor down from the Main Reading Room).
  • Books whose numbers begin with letters H through Z are mostly on the Ground (bottom) level.
  • Books whose numbers begin with are in the Music Library in Brooks Hall.
  • Books whose numbers begin with Q, R, S or are in the Science Library in Swords Hall.

See the handout attached below to learn more about how the library is organized, and where you should begin looking for books.

You can also watch  this video  to learn more about how call numbers work.