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REL 244: The Theology and Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Start

Starting Your Research

Sometimes one of the hardest parts of research is starting. It can be difficult to know what search terms to use, how to track down hard copies of sources, or even know which search tool to use. Use this guide for ideas on how to start your research, how to use the library, and what to do when you get stuck. The answer to the last question is easy - just ask! Please email me or stop by the reference desk to talk with any library about any issue you encounter with your research. Another great tool is the Getting Started Tutorial - this in-depth guide gives you all kinds of help & ideas for conducting research today.

Addition Guides

In addition to the resources listed on this page, the library has other research guides. These might be especially useful:

We also have a dedicated Diversity display, located in the GLA Reading Room. This is not a comprehensive collection, by any means, but you might find several useful resources when you browse the shelves.

Gah! I need help!

Research is difficult and nobody expects you to know how to do it all on your own. Check with your teacher if you aren't sure how to approach your assignment or want a second opinion on sources and strategies.

Stop by the Writing Center at any point during the process for expert advice from your talented peers. The Advising Center can help with issues such as time management and organization.

In the library, visit the reference desk and let us know how it's going. We're sitting there for a reason. Unless we're helping someone else, whatever we're doing is just killing time waiting for your questions. Don't be embarrassed - even seniors writing their theses ask us questions!

You can even chat with us using the box on the right side of this guide.

Finding Books

To find books in our library, search the Library Catalog - you can also search directly via the search box on the library's homepage.

When you find books that look useful, write down the Location & the Call Number

General Collection, A - PQ  are on the Third Floor 

General Collection, PR - Z are on the Second (Main) Floor

Oversize, A - Z are on the Third Floor

Reference, A - Z are on the Second (Main) Floor.

Once you are in the right area, signs on the sides of the shelves will direct you further. The system is a little tricky to figure out at first, so don't hesitate to ask for directions at the Circulation Desk or Reference Desk.

Browse the shelves when you find a useful book. Books are shelved according to topic, so chances are you'll find other relevant books nearby.

You can check books out at the Circulation Desk (front desk).

Finding Articles

We have a lot of databases. To access them, click on the Articles tab  on the library's homepage. Best bets for this class inclue:

  • ATLA, which is the top database in religious research.
  • America: History and Life, which will get you into all kinds of research relate to American history
  • JSTOR, which will also help you access lots of (mainly history) scholarly articles

Once you've found some articles, you'll probably want to narrow down your results. You can always add additional terms to your search to narrow the focus. 

Also, on the left, you will see ways to refine your results by using the scroll bar to focus on recently-published articles or choosing types of articles.

  • Newspapers are good for very specific news items or recent events.
  • Magazine articles reflect a popular approach to issues and are often short and simple in style.
  • Articles in academic journals report on research and are sometimes quite long and complex. Concentrate on the abstract (a one-paragraph summary that sometimes is at the beginning of the article), the introduction, and the last paragraphs. 

When articles are not available as PDF or HTML files, there's a yellow "find it!" button that will search for the article in other databases or offer you a chance to get a copy from another library, a process that usually takes a day or two. Consult the Tracking Down Materials tab for more information. 

Librarian

Julie Gilbert
Contact:
There are lots of ways to reach me. Email me with questions, stop by the library, or use the link below to set up an appointment. (Click the blue bookmark to go directly to the site.) It's fast and easy to do: http://www.meetme.so/JulieGilbert

My reference hours for spring 2017 are Mondays 2:30 - 4:30 (at the reference desk) and Wednesdays 1:00 - 2:30 (on call - ask for me at the front desk).
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Ask Us!

Librarians are here to help!

  • Visit or call the reference desk: A librarian is generally at the desk or "on call" Monday-Thursday 10:30-4:30 and Friday 10:30-2:30 (Fall & Spring) (507-933-7567)
  • E-mail a librarian: folke@gustavus.edu (please include your name and the best way to contact you)
  • Schedule a consultation: online request form
  • More information: Visit the Ask Us! page
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