Choose the Right Resource
When choosing resources for your assignment, consider:
- Assignment requirements—what does the professor want you to cite?
- Learn about your topic -- You may want to use a reference book like an encyclopedia (print or online) to start out with if you don't have a clear understanding of your topic yet.
- Time—the more current the topic, the less will be found in scholarly journals or books, which take longer to get published. Recent events will be covered on the Internet, in newspapers and magazines, as well as in the media.
- Depth of coverage and/or the topic—scholarly journals and books cover topics in more depth than magazines and newspapers. Some topics are not covered by the popular press, e.g., research that would not be of interest to the average consumer.
- Quality of the resource - see Step 3: Evaluating Sources
|Type of Information You Need||Try These Resources|
|Does your topic cover current events?||Newspapers, magazines, Internet|
|Do you need general information on a specific topic, written in a non-specialist style?||
Newspapers, magazines, Internet
|Do you need in-depth information on a specific topic, written for the college student and above by authorities in the field?||Scholarly journals|
|Do you need more detail and/or has the topic been written about for awhile?||Books|
|Do you need an overview, quick facts, statistics on a topic?||Reference books, Internet|
Library Catalog Basic Search
Starting from the Library Catalog Basic Search screen you can search by Keyword, Title, Author, or Subject by selecting the radio buttons and typing search words in the text box.
The default Limits setting will search the entire collection. You may also limit your search to smaller sub-collections: Ejournals (electronic periodicals--not specific articles), Ebooks, NCOD (National Center on Deafness), TCC (Teacher Curriculum Center), Periodicals/Serials (not specific articles), Videos, Reference Room, Special Collections, or Sound Recordings by selecting a collection from the drop-down menu.
Searching for a specific Item
Select an Author or Title search if you know the author (last name, first name) or at least the first few words of the title.
Searching for Items by Topic
There are two ways to search the online catalog for resources on a topic: by Keyword or by Subject.
- A Basic Keyword search will simultaneously look for words in titles of materials, in subject headings, and in notes fields.
- A Subject search will locate materials by Library of Congress Subject Headings, which is a controlled vocabulary or standard list of subject terms. The Oviatt Library assigns Library of Congress Subject Headings to all items listed in the online catalog.
- Another way to find the Library of Congress Subject Heading for your topic is to search the catalog by Keyword, display the record for a relevant title, and select one or more of the Subjects listed for that record.
Library Catalog Advanced Search
For an Advanced search, select the Advanced Catalog Search link on the homepage. The Advanced search allows you to search by keyword in up to four separate fields, and optionally limit your search by language, material type, location, collection, publisher, or publication date.
To start your search:
- Select the field you want to search (Author, Title, Subject, Note, or "any field") from the first drop-down menu.
- Type keyword(s) in the adjacent text box. Two or more words entered together in one search box will retrieve records containing that exact phrase, unless there is no exact match. If there is no exact match for the phrase entered, the system will retrieve records contain all search terms entered, wherever they are in the record.
- (OPTIONAL) For a combined search, enter additional keywords into separate search boxes and choose the appropriate Boolean operators (and, or, and not) from the pull-down menu.
Find a Book on the Shelves
- Check the Status field of the book's record in the catalog.
- IN LIBRARY - book is available for checkout.
- DUE + date - book has already been checked out.
- The Location field shows the general location of the book.
- Most books are on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
- For other locations, check the location codes table.
- The Call # field gives the book's call number, which serves as the book's address in the library. Each row of books on the 2nd and 3rd floors will have a sign at the end indicating which call numbers can be found on that row.
Finding Articles in Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers
Pick a database recommended for your subject from Databases by Subject and then search using keywords.
To locate the full text of an article:
- If full-text is available in the database, click on the link to full text (HTML or PDF).
- If full-text isn't available in the database, click the button to see if we have access to the article in another database or in print in the library
- If no Find Text button is available or you didn't find the article through our databases, search for the magazine or journal title using the Journals tab in the library catalog.
- If the full text isn't available through the Library, you can request an Interlibrary Loan for the article(s) that you need. However, you must allow about two weeks for this!
Finding Statistics on Specific Topics
Only a core group of organizations (most frequently government agencies, particularly federal agencies) collect, analyze, and publish extensive statistical data on a regular basis. Once you know the organization that collects the type of data in which you are interested, search their web site or catalogs of their print publications.
Tip: Think about who would have cared about statistics on the subject and how, as well as from whom, the data could have been collected; this often gives clues of where to look for statistics, whether from a government agency, a trade association, or some other source.
Go to statistical data sources.