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Introduction to Library Resources
This page was created to give students and other library users a general overview of how to conduct research in the library. To start, take a look at Library Terminology, a guide which defines words such as Boolean operators, microfiche, and truncation.
The Online Library Catalog contains records for the various types of materials available in the library: books, videos and DVDs, music CDs, cassettes, computer CD-ROMs, maps and posters, and music scores. The catalog can also be used to determine which journals and magazines the library owns.
To find articles use the databases found on the Digital Resources page. Some databases have full-text articles, meaning that the whole article is available on the computer. Others give you the information to find the print copy of the article. This information is called a citation. You can determine if we have the journal or magazine the article is in by using Journal Finder or the Online Catalog.
There are a few databases that are frequently used. Academic Search Complete (user guide) is one such database that covers a wide variety of subject areas. There are many full text articles and images, but not everything is full text. Included are articles from scholarly journals, popular and trade magazines, and newspapers. The newspaper citations are often not full text. For full text newspaper articles, use Proquest Newspapers. Westlaw Campus Research (online tutorials) also contains full-text news articles, as well as business and legal information.
Once you've accessed the resources that will be most useful, you want to effectively search them. The electronic databases are computer programs, and you can't search for information in the same way you would ask a human a question. For instance, you wouldn't do a search on what influence Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel had on Nazi Germany's eugenics policies. Instead, you would pick a couple of key words, connect them with the word and, then perform your search. For the above topic, for example, my search would probably be something like: Michelangelo and "Sistine Chapel" and Nazi and eugenics .
If you need an article or book the library doesn't own, we can borrow it from another library. This is called Interlibrary Loan. This service is free of charge to Methodist University students. Because these items have to be sent from another library, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get the materials, so don't wait until the night before a paper is due to start your research.
Once you've finished your research, you're ready to write your paper. If you don't know where to start take a look at A Guide to Writing a Research Paper . This guide will give you an overview of the process of writing a paper. While writing, you want to make sure to use your sources to support your ideas, but you don't want to repeat exactly what your sources say. The library guide Avoiding Plagiarism can provide you with tips to incorporate your sources ideas, while using your own words. When you are finished writing your paper, you will need to cite the sources you used. There are many citation styles, so check with your professor to see which one to use. MLA and APA are the most common styles used by undergraduates. The MLA Style for Citing Print Sources, MLA Style for Citing Internet Sources, or the APA Style Guide will cover most of the more common types of sources you would use when researching a paper. If you need assistance writing your paper, contact the Methodist University Writing Center.
If you have questions about the library and the resources available, stop by the Reference Desk or call