Using a University Library

Your university’s library can be one of the greatest resources for you throughout your undergraduate experience. Unfortunately, many students do not know how to take full advantage of the library’s resources. As we mentioned in a previous section, if you were a student in the 1950s, you would be “responsible” for the resources available in your university library. So, if you were writing a research paper on theories of rocket propulsion, you would only be expected to find your sources in the physical library. Today, the library is so much more than a physical building: in effect, the library is a portal to the world of knowledge. This section will introduce you to the basics of using library resources to find sources. We’ll use the University of Mississippi library for our examples, but if you’re a student somewhere else, most likely most of the same guidelines will apply.

Defining our terms

Database: Electronic subscription service that indexes journal articles and other sources. Usually, databases have full-text versions of at least some (if not many) articles.

One Search: The Library’s meta-search tool that collects search results from the catalog, databases, and other library resources.

Catalog: The index of all the physical media owned by the library, as well as digital subscriptions through databases.

Google Scholar: Google’s meta-search tool for academic research. This tool may give wider search results, but it is often harder to access full-text versions of sources through Google Scholar. However, this tool can provide a list of more recent sources that have cited a source you already have, which can prove helpful for many research projects.