University Library at St. Cloud State University

Searching for Academic Sources

Module Checklist
  1. Read and/or watch all sections of this module.
  2. Click into LibSearch, Academic Search Premier, and the Books and More search to become familiar with our library databases.
  3. Work through the call number activities on Kent State University Libraries' Library of Congress Tutorial.
Off-Campus Access
Use your StarID to access library databases and full text articles from off campus.

You should see this login screen:
Proxy Login Image

If you see a different screen or have other problems, Ask a Librarian or contact HuskyTech ((320) 308-7000).
How to Use a Database
This video demonstrates some tips for searching library databases. Please note, however, we use  FindItButton  to lead you to additional online articles, rather than the GetIt@UTC button mentioned in the video.

Direct link:
University of Tennessee Chattanooga Library
Accessing Full Text Articles
  • When searching the databases for articles, look for the one of these links to access full text:
    HTML Full Text Image PDF Full Text image
  • If you don't see full text links, click on the Find It! button to view the easiest way to access the article:
    Find It button
wordle image
Searching for Academic Sources
To locate academic books, articles, films, streaming media, and other resources, you must search one or more library databases. Some databases are general, allowing you to search for content on any topic, while others are subject-specific, allowing you to search for scholarly information within a particular discipline such as Mass Communications, Criminal Justice, Nursing, Sociology, etc.

Some of the general databases available from the Library are:
  • LibSearch (see box below)
    Allows you to search for articles and books across most of the Library's databases in a single search box.
  • Academic Search Premier (all topics)
    Allows you to search for articles (from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals) covering all topic and subject areas.
  • Books and More Search (MnPALS Plus)
    Limits your search to the Library's physical items like books, movies, music, and government publications, with some links to online sources (also known as the library catalog).

A full listing of databases is available at:
Useful Definitions
Call number: A combination of numbers and letters that is used to show where a book is located in a library (Merriam-Webster).

Citation: A reference to a source used in research including the author, title, source title, publisher, and date of publication, used to point researchers to published works on a top. Citations are found:
  • In a list of library database search results;
  • In the References, Bibliography, or Works Cited section at the end of book chapters, scholarly articles, or research papers;
  • In the text of a book, scholarly article, or research paper, pointing the reader to the source that was quoted or paraphrased and/or;
  • In syllabi provided by your professors.

Database: A collection of pieces of information that is organized and used on a computer (Merriam-Webster).

Library catalog: A database that lets you search the contents of a library's collection (books, movies, media, but NOT articles). Our library's catalog is called MnPALS Plus, or the Books and More Search.
LibSearch is a single search box that allows you to search the Library's physical collection (books, movies, music, government publications, etc.) along with most of the online journals and e-books to which the Library subscribes. LibSearch is one of several databases that provide general or subject-specific coverage of an academic discipline or subject area. The screenshot below highlights some of the features of LibSearch.
How Library Materials are Organized
  • Academic libraries contain materials that support the curriculum, or what is taught and studied at the college or university.
  • Most academic libraries use the Library of Congress (LC) Call Number System to organize their physical items.
  • Using this system, librarians assign call numbers to each item in the library.
  • The call numbers are used to bring together items on the same subject.
  • In the Library of Congress system, fiction books are organized according to country and author, with books about the author, criticism of the author's works, and the works of fiction themselves, all shelved next to each other (see Class P: Language and literature). 

Below is a list of the main categories within the LC Call Number System. These categories represent different areas of study or academic disciplines. Books and other items about these topics will have call numbers that start with the appropriate letter.
  • Under each letter, the broad academic disciplines are broken down into "subclasses" or more specific topics
  • For a more thorough description of the classification scheme and subclasses, vist the Library of Congress Classification Outline  

How to Read LC Call Numbers to Locate Books

Start here! Work through the tutorial and tests on the Kent State University Libraries' Library of Congress Tutorial.

When you search for books, videos, or other materials in the library catalog (MnPALS), you find information about each item. This information is displayed in what's called a "record." For instance, a record for a book looks like this:

To find the book, you must look for it in the library using its Call Number and its location. In our example, we can see that the item is Available and is in the Main Collection - Basement. The call number, LC67.62 .M58 2010, translates to...
  • Subclass LC -- “Special aspects of education” -- Shelved in alphabetical order
  • 67.62 -- “Social aspects of education. Economic aspects of education.” -- Shelved numerically as a whole number, sometimes with a decimal
  • .M58 -- (a.k.a. the Cutter line) author’s last name, “Mullen” -- Shelved alphabetically by the letter, then numerically as a decimal
  • 2010 -- the year the book was published -- Shelved in chronological order

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