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Now the Nitty-Gritty!

1. The card catalog

There used to be stacks of wooden files with very small drawers in most libraries. These files contained an index card for each book in the library along with an assigned number that was the clue on where to find the book in the stacks and stacks of books. This is the card catalog and is still present in some libraries today, although most have now put their card catalog on the computer.

The card catalog, whether still on index cards, or on the computer, will sort the cards three different ways: by subject, by author and by title. A good student will become very familiar and adept at saving time by using the card catalog.

2. There are also book catalogs

These would include Books in Print, Cumulative Book Index and Forthcoming Books. Books listed in these catalogs may not necessarily be available at your particular library. Checking the card catalog will give you that information.

3. Newspaper indexes

Large city newspapers across the country publish indexes of articles that have run in their publications. Many libraries keep past issues of several newspapers on file via microfiche. If you are not familiar with how this system works, you can get help from a library aide in the reference section.

4. Vertical file

An index of pamphlets and brochures available.

5. Magazine index

The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature is an excellent source to determine if any major magazines throughout the country have published articles on your subject.

6. Government publications are also available

These can be located using the Guide to U. S. Government Publications, American Statistical Index and Congressional Information Service Index.

7. Computer Databases

8. Internet

Do not be deceived! Research is a very time consuming task. The chunks of time you allot to researching your subject should be measured in hours, not minutes. Plan to spend two or three hour chunks of time to get any meaningful research done. Use your fifteen and thirty minute periods for reviewing notes or working math problems. Research takes time and concentration. You can still take breaks, but don't leave the task at hand.


Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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