Ivy Tech Library Resources and Reading Strategies

What all is found on the Ivy Tech Community College library website?

Students can access a wide variety of databases which cover about every subject taught at Ivy Tech. The homepage on each library stie has a search bar that searches all of the databases at the same time. It can be a bit overwhelming, but can also save students time by having one search list on a topic. If a student knows a particular database or topic to search, the A-Z List is the place to click on. The Common Questions or FAQ link can answer questions most every student has and is a useful source for finding help quickly.

Students will also see a link to ‘Ask a Librarian’. Information is given on how to contact a local librarian for help.

Each library site has a list of research links, services and information about the physical library on the left side of the homepage. All sites have a link for Guides. These are the library guides that librarians create to gather information about one topic on one portal. Topics may cover courses, areas of research, citation help, and tutorials. These guides contain guide and relevant information students need to complete assignments, do research, and even get resources for certificates and specific career testing. We recommend that students browse the list of topics and become familiar with these guides that are on their region’s library page.

Where do I start researching a term paper? 

A good place to start researching a term paper is to start with IvyTilt. This is a tutorial that contains 6 modules on different aspects of research. The modules are short, to the point and full of information that will tell them how to choose a topic, what resources are available, how to start looking for articles and websites, citation help, how to avoid plagiarism, and how to find books. Another great source of help is the library staff. Librarians are available for research consultation and can help direct students to resources needed for assignments. The library website has contact information to set up an appointment or to talk with a librarian by phone or email, and the Ask a Librarian link. One library guide in particular has an outline as to how to start and conduct research. The IDEA guide from the Indianapolis library website has the seven steps of research and supporting resources.

Why are the e-resources here better than just going to Google?

Library resources are preferred over just searching Google because the library resources have been vetted by librarians and found to be credible. By vetting, we mean that they have been reviewed, evaluated and selected. They meet the academic requirements that deem them useful for academic research and use. If a student just uses Google s/he risks using resources that are not credible and have no authority. Anyone can put anything on the Internet whether it is valid, true, or trustworthy. To use something off the Internet, students will spend valuable time evaluating sources. If library sources are used, the librarians have already evaluated the materials, saving the student valuable time that can then be spent working on the assignment

What makes a good source? 

A good source is one that is:

Current – has information that is up to date, or current for the specific topic being researched. If the information is older has it been revised or updated.

Relevant to the topic – does the information relate to the topic or answer the research question being studied. It is an appropriate level and for the correct audience.

Author – Students will want to know the author’s credentials and expertise, educational affiliations, previous works published, possibly contact information or if the source has been peer-reviewed.

Bias/purpose – look for the purpose of the source. Is there any bias or is it being presented with neutrality? Is it fact or opinion?

All of these consideration, when taken together, will help students decide the best source for their need when looking for materials to use for assignments.

What else does the library have besides books? 

The library has two forms – the physical place and the online website. The online resources include databases, electronic tools such as NoodleTools and NetAnatomy, ebooks, images, music and audio sources, and streaming films and movies. The physical location contains even more. First and foremost is the library staff. They can help with technology issues, answer questions, and provide information. The physical place contains study rooms (in some libraries) group study areas, print books and journals, copy machines, computers and printers. Some libraries have specialty collections to support specific curriculum such as anatomy models and tables, early childhood supplies, makerspaces, media, maps, and other such items.

Reading Strategies for Academic Texts

Recall from the Active Learning section that effective reading requires more engagement than just reading the words on the page. In order to learn and retain what you read, it’s a good idea to do things like circling key words, writing notes, and reflecting. Actively reading academic texts can be challenging for students who are used to reading for entertainment alone, but practicing the following steps will get you up to speed:

  • Preview: You can gain insight from an academic text before you even begin the reading assignment. For example, if you are assigned a nonfiction book, read the title, the back of the book, and table of contents. Scanning this information can give you an initial idea of what you’ll be reading and some useful context for thinking about it. You can also start to make connections between the new reading and knowledge you already have, which is another strategy for retaining information.
  • Read: While you read an academic text, you should have a pen or pencil in hand. Circle or highlight key concepts. Write questions or comments in the margins or in a notebook.  This will help you remember what you are reading and also build a personal connection with the subject matter.
  • Summarize: After you an read academic text, it’s worth taking the time to write a short summary—even if your instructor doesn’t require it. The exercise of jotting down a few sentences or a short paragraph capturing the main ideas of the reading is enormously beneficial: it not only helps you understand and absorb what you read but gives you ready study and review materials for exams and other writing assignments.
  • Review: It always helps to revisit what you’ve read for a quick refresher. It may not be practical to thoroughly reread assignments from start to finish, but before class discussions or tests, it’s a good idea to skim through them to identify the main points, reread any notes at the ends of chapters, and review any summaries you’ve written.

The following video covers additional active reading strategies readers can use before, during, and after the reading process.

Vocabulary-Building Techniques

Gaining confidence with unique terminology used in different disciplines can help you be more successful in your courses and in college generally. In addition to the suggestions described earlier, such as looking up unfamiliar words in dictionaries, the following are additional vocabulary-building techniques for you to try:

Read Everything and Read Often

Reading frequently both in and out of the classroom will help strengthen your vocabulary. Whenever you read a book, magazine, newspaper, blog, or any other resource, keep a running list of words you don’t know. Look up the words as you encounter them and try to incorporate them into your own speaking and writing.

Make Connections to Words You Already Know

You may be familiar with the “looks like . . . sounds like” saying that applies to words. It means that you can sometimes look at a new word and guess the definition based on similar words whose meaning you know. For example, if you are reading a biology book on the human body and come across the word malignant, you might guess that this word means something negative or broken if you already know the word malfunction, which share the “mal-” prefix.

Make Index Cards

If you are studying certain words for a test, or you know that certain phrases will be used frequently in a course or field, try making flashcards for review. For each key term, write the word on one side of an index card and the definition on the other. Drill yourself, and then ask your friends to help quiz you.

Developing a strong vocabulary is similar to most hobbies and activities. Even experts in a field continue to encounter and adopt new words. The following video discusses more strategies for improving vocabulary.