Welcome to your library guide to COM 120: Public Discourse! I designed this guide with your research needs in mind. On the "Wider Research" tab (above), you'll find recommendations for databases, websites, and other places to search for information about your problem. On this page, you'll find resources for finding information at the local level, no matter where your local level is.
Please contact me at any point in the semester for research help. No matter what question, issue or problem you're encountering with your research, please reach out for my help. Working with me will actually save you time - promise! You can find my contact information underneath my picture on the right.
Chat reference service 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.
Here's a list of the kinds of organizations and groups that tend to have the kind of local information you're researching. Most communities will have some range of these resources, so do some web searching (and reach out to me) to explore.
The most common issue you might encounter is accessing local data. It might exist but you might not be able to locate it. Not all local information will be posted online. In this case, you will need to contact appropriate people in your community to see if they can help. Your professor can help you identify potential kinds of people to ask, as can I. Browse the Local Information Sources box (above) for more ideas.
If you are searching a local newspaper, you might hit a paywall. If you live in a bigger city, your local newspaper might be in Proquest US (or Global) Newsstream databases (linked on the "Wider Research" tab). If not, check with your local public library to see if they can help you access the title. If you're looking for the St. Peter Herald or Mankato Free Press, email me (Julie) for help.
You might not be able to find local information, like statistics or demographic information, that matches what you're looking for exactly. Maybe you can find data for your county but not your town, for example. In some cases, you might need to piece together several pieces of information to prove your point. This is a great question to bring to your professor or me.
A great tip - whenever you're talking with a community member, ask them if there are other people you should talk to or if they have other suggestions for information you should consult.
You're investigating a problem that affects your local community. Finding local information will take some persistence and creativity. Here are things to keep in mind:
Like Gustavus, most colleges & universities will have a wealth of information available online. You'll need to do some digging, but here are examples of information sources at Gustavus. You will find most (if not all) of the same kinds of organizations and structures at other institutions.
In the US, many states have robust websites that will contain - among other things - information and statistics about local communities. It may take a little digging to uncover the information you're looking for, but be persistent and contact me if you need help. I've listed some examples from the State of Minnesota & the US government below; use these or see if you can find relevant pages for different states OR countries, depending on your community: