The catalog is a listing of everything a library owns, so it's the best place to begin your research.
Libraries organize and store their book collections on shelves called "stacks." RCC Library uses the Dewey Classification System (opens in a new window), while most universities use the Library of Congress Classification System (opens in a new window).
After choosing a particular item from the library's catalog (opens in a new window), find the location information, called the "call number," and then look for that book on the corresponding shelf.
Many books are now available electronically (e-books) and are purchased by the library.
There are two types of encyclopedias — general and subject. General encyclopedias provide overviews on a wide variety of topics. Subject encyclopedias contain entries focusing on one field of study.
Subject authorities who write articles in encyclopedias include important references at the end of the articles. You may use these references to jumpstart your research.
Libraries purchase databases for use by their students, faculty and staff ONLY. That's why you must enter a password and/or username in order to use the databases.
Typically, databases contain articles rather than entire books, but some databases, like Credo Reference, are collections of eBooks.
Most databases provide access to newspapers, magazines, and journal articles, either an abstract of an article or the full text. Be sure to limit your results to full-text for easier access.
To use a database effectively, you have to know what you're looking for--have a set of keywords (and synonyms) in mind.
Because most databases are discipline specific, choose one that relates to your topic. For example, if you're doing literary criticism, choose Literature Resource Center.
Unlike books which may take years to be published, periodicals such as newspapers, magazines, journals, are published more frequently, hence the name periodical. Choose a periodical based on the type of information you need.