University Library at St. Cloud State University

Searching for Academic Sources

Module Checklist
  1. Learn the Useful Definitions
  2. Watch How to Use a Database
  3. Click into LibSearch and Academic Search Premier to become familiar with our most popular library databases
  4. Study all boxes about LibSearch and accessing full text
  5. Study the boxes about the library's physical collections and call numbers
  6. Learn about call numbers by completing the activities on Kent State University Libraries' Library of Congress Tutorial 
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: (4:33)
University of Tennessee Chattanooga Library
How to Avoid Bias in Searches
How to Find Relevant Sources
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).
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
find it menu
  • If an online full text option is not available, you will either see information about where the physical item is in the library OR be prompted to Sign in to order the item through Interlibrary Loan.
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).
Determining What Types of Sources You Need
What Types of Sources Do I Need? tutorial (University of Arizona Libraries)
A review of popular vs. scholarly sources, with examples of when you would use each for research and where to search for them. 
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. A full listing of databases is available at Research Databases.

Some of the general databases available from the library are:
  • LibSearch (see boxes below)
    Allows you to search for articles and books across most of the Library's databases in a single search box.
  • Academic Search Premier 
    Allows you to search for articles (from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals) covering all topic and subject areas.
LibSearch Database Overview
LibSearch lets you search for the library's articles, books and eBooks, videos, digital media, and more, all in a unified search engine. Directly from the main search box on the library website, you can choose to search the following:
  • All Resources: A combined search of articles, books and more
  • Articles (Scholarly): Journal articles published in the scholarly literature, available full text online, in print or via interlibrary loan
  • Books and More: Resources owned by our library, a.k.a. the library catalog
  • Course Reserves: Items set aside by instructors for use by students in a particular class
  • All MnPALS Libraries: Search all libraries in the Minnesota State system

Other search tools are also available on the LibSearch page:
  • New Search: Start a new search
  • Newspaper Articles: Search local, regional, and national newspapers only
  • Journal Titles: Look up a specific journal or newspaper title and view coverage dates 
  • Research Databases: View a full listing of all databases to which the library subscribes
  • Interlibrary Loan: Access an interlibrary loan form to request books or articles from a different library
  • Ask a Librarian: Get 24/7 research assistance
  • ... : Additional options, including a Browse search to view A-Z lists of authors, titles, or call numbers and a search of the library's Research Guides
Navigating Your Results in LibSearch
  • After you type in keywords and click on the search icon, you will see a list of search results.
  • Sign in at the top right to see your full results and options.
  • You may select from the Limit To options to focus your search results. Limit your results to Peer-Reviewed (Scholarly) to specifically find scholarly research articles.
  • You may also narrow your search results by choosing a particular Resource Type. 

Finding the Library's Physical Items
To find the physical items (books, music scores, sound recordings, DVDs, etc.), use LibSearch and select the Books and More search scope.
libsearch books image

In your list of search results, look for the library location and call number (see below). The call number (see below) is a string of letters and numbers and tells you where the item is in the library.
book search results
Academic Library Physical Collections

An Overview

  • 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 LibSearch, 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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