Peabody Library Research Channel: Find Background Information

Using the Library to Find Sources

Question: I know how to find information using Google and the web, so why would I use the library catalog or a database?

Answer: The library tools offer a variety of features that make it easy to find high quality resources for your project and papers. Here are some key advantages to using a library tool such as the catalog or a database:

  • Library subject databases are collections of articles and other resources from specific field of study, so using them allows you to focus your searching and find scholarly research just in that specific subject area.
  • The catalog & databases have filters that allow you to narrow down your search results in great detail, to get exactly what you need.
  • The catalog & databases tell you what kind of source you are looking at. For example, in the catalog you will see an icon listed next to each item that tells you if it's a scholarly article, a book, an encyclopedia article, a newspaper article, etc.
  • The catalog & databases allow you to set up your search using additional criteria (such as a date range) to focus your searching.
  • If you use the catalog & databases to search, you will discover all the content that the library has paid subscription fees for already - the resources are free for you to use as a student!

Reference Sources

Wikipedia Considerations

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has made finding background information incredibly easy! However, you will want to keep these things in mind if you are thinking about using it:

  • Wikipedia and other encyclopedias are a good place to start your research, but usually not considered acceptable sources to cite.
  • Wikipedia does not qualify as a scholarly source.
  • Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia, edited by users all over the world. When you use it, it's a good idea to verify the facts by comparing it to other sources.
  • Wikipedia does not recommend itself for academic use