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FTS: Interfaith Encounters: Tracking Down Materials

Tracking Down Sources

Finding hard copies of sources has become one of the biggest hurdles in conducting research, especially if you are looking for articles. With the internet, it's easy to find if a source exists, but often you can only access sources through a library.  The systems involved are complicated and don't always communicate well with each other. Plus you often end up on publishers' websites, where they want you to pay for an article.

  • Never pay for an article. We can almost always track down what you need FOR FREE.

There are multiple ways to get to article and book citations, plus another hundred ways to access the hard copies, not to mention a million things that can trip researchers up along the way.  Use the information on this page to track down hard copies of materials. BUT please ask for help if you hit a block - this is one of the most common issues in research today and the reference librarians are trained to help you overcome these obstacles.

Interlibrary Loan

The most common way we tend to find citations is by searching databases. While you will find the full text of articles in some databases, you will also find many instances where the full text of the article is not in the database itself. When this happens, click on the yellow FindIt! button.

The FindIt! button essentially does three things:

  • Searches to see if we have the full text in another database - and links you to the articles
  • Searches to see if we have the full text in paper - find these on the first floor of the Library, journals are alphabetized by title
  • Gives you the option to request the item from a different library if we do not have full text anywhere else - click the option to request the item

To request an item from Interlibrary Loan, all you'll need is your Gustavus user name and password. You'll be prompted to log on and then follow the instructions to create an ILL request. Remember that ILL is free for you. It typically takes only a day or two for articles to be emailed from the lending library to you.

The one exception is if you're searching books in the Gustavus Library catalog. When you find a book that we don't have in our library, click the title. From there, you can request it via ILL (look for the options in the right hand side of the screen). 

If anything goes wonky with this process, please ask. Ask a reference librarian, email me directly or come to the front desk of the library. There are enough odd hiccups in how the systems talk to each other that things sometimes go off track. We want to help you solve any issues you have accessing the hard copies of sources.

You can also find more details on the Interlibrary Loan page.

Decoding Citations

In many cases, before you can track down hard copies of materials, you need to know what kind of source you have.  Use this checklist if you are working off a bibliography or some other list of sources. Here are some of the most common citations, including identifying indicators (note that citations will look different in various citation styles):

  • Journal article - Usually contains the title of an article in quotations and then the title of a journal in italics. Look for volume and issue numbers.
  • Book - Almost always contains a place of publication, so look for a city. The book title is usually italicized or underlined.
  • Book chapter - Also contains a city of publication. Title of chapter is usually in quotations and title of book is italicized. Look for editors (usually abbreviated ed or eds.)

For examples of how citations look in various citation styles, visit our Cite Your Sources guide.  Once you've decoded your citation, use the boxes below to track down hard copies.

Tracking Down Journal Articles

If you have a journal citation:

  • Click the Do We Have This Journal link on the library's homepage.
  • Type the title of the journal into the search box.
  • The search will direct you to the source if we have it in print or online.
    •   You will either be given a link to be taken into a database that has the full text and/or you will be told we have it in print (lower level).
  • If we do not have the journal, go to My Library Account on the library's homepage.  Log in with your Gustavus user name & password. Click your name in the upper right hand corner, then click "My ILL Requests." From here you can create a new request. 

If you are searching for articles through a database or want to browse articles in print:

  • Google Scholar -  If you search Google Scholar ( from on campus, you'll see a "find it at Gustavus" link that will take you to the full text of the article (or tell you if we have it in print).  If you end up on a publisher's website & they are asking you to pay for access, stop!  Never pay for an article.  Chances are, we can get it for you from another library.  Follow the Blank Journal Request Form bullet point directions above or visit the Reference Desk for help.
  • Requesting Articles Through a Database - Look for the FindIt! button, which will search to see if we have it full text in another database or in print downstairs.  If we don't have the article, you'll be taken to an Interlibrary Loan form to request the item.
  • Print Articles in the Basement - We have a collection of articles in print in the lower level.  Sometimes the FindIt! button or the Journals List will tell you that your article is available in print.  These are on the lower level of the library.  Newer materials (within the last year) are on the shelve with yellow tags; all other journals are on shelves with green tags and are alphabetized by title of journal.  Use the year and/or volume number in your citation to retrieve your article.

Tracking Down Books

If you have a book citation:

  • Search the Gustavus library catalog to see if we have it here or at another library.
  • Request books we don't have via ILL

A word about Google Books...

  • Google Books provides access to millions of digitized materials.  Note that more recent publications will almost always give you only a snippet of a book, not the whole thing.  Use Google Books to preview possible materials; once you find something that looks worthwhile, find it in a library to get the whole thing.
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