First Step Toward a Great Research Paper: The Library

In writing on October 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm


It’s easy to forget that the university library is a useful tool. After all, 15 seconds of Googling can get you more information than you’ll ever want or need on any subject — unless, of course, you’re working on a research paper or in need of quality information by academic experts. This is when your school’s library is going to come in handy. There are three great things you can find at most school libraries. They can save you money and lots of time.

1) Library Databases can save you lots of time
The heart of library research today is the database. Your school has probably paid to have access to dozens of databases that have the most up-to-date articles on every subject from career advice to engineering to literature. You can find solid research in a tenth of the time it’d take you to find good research using Google. If you’re assigned a research paper — or if you just want solid, reliable information, the database is your friend!

2) Textbooks
In many school libraries, there’s a section where you can look at textbooks for your classes. Textbooks aren’t usually available for every class on campus, but you might be able to get through the first couple of weeks of the semester while you wait for your used copy to arrive in the mail or while you wait for the beginning-of-semester bookstore lines to shrink.

3) Books/DVDs/Magazines/Newspapers
Okay, so we know that most libraries have books you can use for research papers. But did you know that many libraries have not only the research-type of book, but novels, movies, magazines, and newspapers? Some schools even have an inter-library loan system that helps you order any book or movie from a network of libraries all over the country. Since one of the best ways to improve English vocabulary is to read for fun, you might want to check out some reading for fun.

Librarians are usually more than eager to help students learn to use library resources (my school’s librarian encourages us all to get our personal DVDs and books from the library — to use the service). Librarians are also masters at using the databases, finding books, and knowing how to search for exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re not sure where to start in finding what you need, talk to a librarian. I promise it’ll be useful!


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