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  How to Research Using the Library

How to Research Using the Library

Back to the basics. We're returning to the library where research began and continues to be the foremost center of intellectualism. While Internet research can be a hefty substitute, it will never replace library research. Libraries contain books and magazines (periodicals), hundreds of thousands of primary and secondary sources of information, as well as people who are trained to help and guide you through the research process.

  • Before you go to the library
    • Know what you want to research. You will waste too many hours inthe library if you have no idea what you plan to seek.
    • Come prepared with tools. This means, bring a pen and paper and a large back that can hold several books that you plan to take home.
  • When you first get to the library
    • Talk to a librarian. Librarians are detailed educators who know every in and out of the specific library and are trained to help you with your research. They are not simply people to ask, "Where are the magazines?" They want to help you find tiny articles that are too buried and hidden to acknowledge.
    • If you do not want to speak to a librarian, then go straight to the computers. Computers have now replaced card catalogs. The card catalog system still exists, but now exists in a more accessible, legible format on the computer.
    • Go directly to the online library catalog. If you are confused, ask a librarian for help.
    • Type in the subject you seek just as you would on the internet. You can look by "author," "topic," "subject," "title," or any combination thereof.
    • A list of books and publications will come on the screen.
    • Write down five to ten of the catalog number so that you can find the books.
  • Pick up a floor plan and map of the library
    • Find out what floor the books you have chosen are on.
    • Do this by looking at the first two letters of the book code you have written down from the computer. It will correspond with a type of book (Humanities, Sciences, etc.), which will correspond with a code and a floor.
    • Find the floor and then search by catalog number until you find the book.
  • Once you have located a book
    • Copy the pages you need to research on the copy machine. There will be a copy machine on each floor of the library that will accept change or a library copy card. Be sure to make a copy of the title page with all bibliographical information (author, title, publisher, published date).
    • Sit in the library and read the book or the pages you need from the book. Take notes on paper. Be sure to write down all bibliographical information (author, publisher, published date, etc.).
    • Check the book out of the library.
  • Checking a book out of a library
    • Obtain a library card.
    • Fill out the paperwork and sign your card. Library cards are generally free.
    • Make sure the library gives you a card or form with the due date of the book. Generally, library books are loaned to the public for approximately 2-5 weeks, depending on the type.
  • Returning a book to the library
    • Don't forget to return the book to the library. Late fees can add up and cost you a fortune. Also, you may be banned from certain libraries if your late fees add up over time.
    • Make sure you write down all bibliographical information before you return the book. You will always need to document and cite the publication information when giving an oral or written report.
    • Drop the book in the overnight Return Drop-Slot from outside the library. All libraries will have one of these 24-hour return slots. Or, hand the book to a librarian inside the functioning library.


Periodicals are another term for magazines. Libraries are the best place to find every magazine every published for decades and decades. The way to research a topic by magazine article is to use the Guide to Periodicals (Magazines), an enormous book index in each library for each year. It will index every topic and person ever mentioned in any published magazine. Like the library catalogue of books, it will help you find a newspaper or magazine article on a person or idea. Write down all the information given in the index for that subject.

  • Magazine
  • Article Title
  • Article Author
  • Page number in magazine
  • Volume, book, date

Then, you can locate this specific article in the periodical section of your library. Most of these sections will just contained bound copies of the magazines for the recent years. For all magazines over a decade and farther in the past, you will have to use microfilm to read. Because the volume is so grand, libraries have put these magazines on microfilm to save space. A librarian will set the machine up for you so you can read the articles from microfilm. You can then print out the pages at a slight cost per page.

It is important to remember that library research is vital to all research papers and presentations. Internet research alone will not be sufficient for a quality research project. Always remember to write down all "contact" information and publication information for each book you use. You never know when you'll need to locate it again. Furthermore, you will always need to document every source you use in a research project.