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REL 252: Interfaith Understanding and Global Christianities: Start

Getting Started

Welcome to your library course guide! It is designed with your specific research in mind. For your course, you are to find scholarly articles and books about any area related to interfaith matters. This guide will help you

  • Differentiate between scholarly and popular sources
  • Strategize ways to identify search terms and techniques
  • Navigate the ATLA database and the library catalog
  • Access hard copies of materials
  • Identify where to go for additional help

The last bullet point is the easiest to answer: Think of me (Julie) as your personal course librarian. Use the contact information under my photo (below). Feel free to email research questions and/or set up an appointment to talk about your research.

Chat with Us!

Chat reference services is available Monday - Thursday 10:30 - 4:30 & Fridays 10:30 - 2:30. We look forward to connecting with you! Contact us with any question about research or library services.

These times don't work for you? Prefer to connect via email or Google Meets? Visit our Reference Services page for more options to contact a librarian.

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Accessing Hard Copies

When you're searching the ATLA database, you may find lots of materials that are not full text in the database. To find the full text, click the FindIt! button (the bright yellow one).

A few possible things might happen.

1. It's full text in another database, in which case the FindIt! button will take you to a screen where you can access the full text.

2. The library has a print copy of the journal, in which case the Find It! button will tell you we have it. You will go to the library's lowest level, where you'll find print copies of journals in alphabetical order of journal title. You can check these out. 

3. In the library catalog, you will see an option to request from another library, which means we don't have immediate access. Click the request link, where you will be asked to log in with your Gustavus account username and password. You should then be taken to an interlibrary loan (ILL) form containing the item's information. Double check the info and submit the form. The article will be emailed to you.

4. You click the FindIt! button and nothing works, or a link is broken, or ILL isn't working, or you're not sure if we have the journal in print or not. It's okay! Tracking down the hard copies of materials can be challenging, due to the number of systems that may or may not talk to each other. You should always track down a librarian (stop at the Information Desk, email Julie, etc.), and we can help you find your materials.

You can also click the Tracking Down Materials tab (top) for more information.

Where Should I Search?

For this assignment, you are to search the ATLA Religion Database and the Library Catalog. Both can be found on the library's homepage.  The page automatically defaults to searching our library's materials. Or click the Article tab to find ATLA (databases are listed in alphabetical order). You can also search WorldCat to find books at other libraries.

You should also be thinking about search terms - and using more than one word or phrase. Pay attention to the terms that experts in the field use to identify your topic. You can also use the Reference Works tab (top of page) to identify relevant encyclopedias. Sometimes a 10 minute glance at an encyclopedia article about your topic can give you tons of ideas for search terms. Also consult the Search Tips tab (top of page) for more ideas on how to search.

The Accessing Hard Copies box to the left, as well as the Tracking Down Materials tab (top of page) give detailed information on getting materials from other libraries; feel free to email me with specific questions, too.

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 (usually will be something like General Collection, Reference, Browsing, Oversize, etc.) & the Call Number (a long string of letters & numbers). 

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 Information Desk (main floor of the library).

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 Information Desk.


Julie Gilbert's picture
Julie Gilbert
I love meeting with students and faculty to talk about your research, including any issues you have - or even if you just want to brainstorm. There are lots of ways to reach me, even during the current pandemic. Email me with questions or to set up a Google meet. Starting March 30, librarians will also be available via chat - click on the little flag right below this message for more info. Be well, everyone.

Scholarly vs Popular

In general, scholarly sources:

  • Are written by experts in the field for other experts (or students)
  • Often include a discussion of related literature 
  • Contain a list of works cited at the end of the article (or in footnotes)
  • Lack paid advertisements

Learn more from guides at other libraries, like Georgetown, NCSU Libraries or the University of Arizona.

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