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FTS: Childhood in Nordic Folk and Fairy Tales: Getting Started

Welcome to the Library

The Princess and the Trolls

John Baeur, Prinsessan och Trollen, 1913, courtesy of Wikimedia

Finding Books and Videos

General Collection books are on the upper level (call numbers starting A-PQ) or the main floor (call numbers from PR - Z). They can be checked out for six weeks.

Children's Collection books are on the lower level at the back of the floor (near Olin Hall). They can be checked out for six weeks.

Videos are on the lower level at the front of the floor. They can be checked out for three days.

Books in the Reference Collection are on the main floor, Beck Hall side. They must be used in the library.

Books on Reserve are kept behind the main desk. They must be used in the library.

In the Reference Collection


The six librarians, eight library staff members, and dozens of student employees want to make the library a place that helps you learn and explore ideas. Three places you'll find us:

  • The circulation desk - where you check books out and ask for reserves
  • The reference desk - where you can get help with your research or simply trouble-shoot problems you encounter. Librarians are available from 10:30-4:30 Mon-Thurs and 10:30-2:30 F or by appointment.
  • Interlibrary loan (ILL) - we will borrow books or get articles from journals that are not in  our library. Mostly, you will interact with these staff members via the web and email. It takes several days to get a book, 24-48 hours to get an article from another library.

Your friendly librarians

Kinds of Sources

"Sources are people talking to people"

There are (at least) two ways to find information.

  • The Google way - put key words into a search engine, catalog, or database and see what turns up. This seems quick and efficient, but can overwhelm you with choices.
  • Following connections from one expert to another - when you find a good source, it may well point you to other sources. In a way, you're becoming part of a big conversation and your voice matters! The trick in following connections is getting your hands on the books and articles they wrote.

Libraries also use a third way - classification. Once you find a book in the catalog and note its call number, you'll find it is shelved with other books on the same subject. The shelving system is old and odd, but it still helps you browse by general category. College libraries don't use the Dewey Decimal system; they use the one the Library of Congress uses. But it's the same concept.

Using the Stith-Thompson Motif Index

"Information needs to be organized, and how it's organized matters."

Long before the internet, Stith Thompson wanted to make it possible for folklorists to find similarities in folklore across the world. To do this, he created a classification scheme that would sort all folklore into broad categories.

He sorted folktales into these categories, listing where they were published, and created an index to them all. Ask for this set at the information desk in the library. (There is an online version, too, but it's basically a copy, and not any easier to use.)

To search for tales, there are several steps:

  1. Use the index (volume 6) to find where something is classified;
  2. Then go to the volume that has the classified tales. From there you can find the sources. The information is not complete so
  3. You probably will have to check the list of source abbreviations in volume 1.Then . .
  4. To find the source, try the title in the library's search box. We can request things we don't have from other libraries by broadening your search to "libraries worldwide."

It can be quite a lot of detective work!

Tracing Cited Sources

Once you see a reference that looks good, how do you get your hands on it? Here's a quick checklist.

  • Is the reference to a book? Search the title of the book in the library catalog.
  • Is the reference to a chapter or essay in a book? Check the book title in the library catalog (not the title of the essay).
  • Is the reference to a journal article? Search for the title of the journal in the Journals List (not the title of the article).
  • Did you strike out? Request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).
  • Not sure what it is? Ask at the reference desk (or send me an email).



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. Email me with questions or use the old fashioned phone number below to contact me. Or stop by during my reference/office hours: Wednesdays from 2:30 - 4:30 and Thursdays from 1:00 - 2:30. I'll either be in my office (Library 108B on the lower level) or the reference desk on the main floor.

Go to the Library Website

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