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ENG 002 Transition English


Search the Catalog with Summon

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.

Use Books

  • when looking for a lot of information on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument
  • Many books are now available electronically on the Web (e-books) and are purchased by your library. 
  • Examples of reference materials include encyclopedias, dictionaries & thesauri, atlases, almanacs, maps, and directories. Most reference materials in print form are expensive, so they can only be used in the library. You can either take notes or make copies. The library also has electronic reference books (ebooks).
  • Reference books are not read straight through, like novels; you usually simply “refer” to them when you need quick, basic information.
  • Reference books provide a quick introduction to your topic, a brief overview; these overviews are especially helpful when you begin researching a topic you don’t know much about.
  • 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.

Use reference materials

  • when looking for background information on a topic (the 5Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why)
  • when trying to find key ideas, important dates or concepts

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.

Use Library Databases

  • to locate full-text journal, magazine, and newspaper articles
  • to locate scholarly journals

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.

Newspapers provide articles each day about current events and are a good source for local information.

Use a Newspaper

  • to find current information about international, national and local events
  • to find editorials, commentaries, expert or popular opinions

Magazines publish articles on topics of popular interest and current events. The articles are written by journalists and are for the general public.

Use a Magazine

  • to find information or opinions about popular culture
  • to find up-to-date information about current events
  • to find general articles written for people who are not necessarily specialists in the topic area

Journal articles are written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be published. Journal articles may cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research. Many instructors require you to use these "scholarly" sources.

Use a Journal

  • when doing scholarly research
  • to find out what has been studied on your topic
  • to find bibliographies that point to other relevant research