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FTS: Coming of Age 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 Articles

To find articles about your organization, try these databases, which will connect you with all kinds of sources. Use the Search Tips tab above for pointers on how to search databases efficiently. You will probably find a lot of information (but sometimes you find no information!). Be persistent, try various search terms, and above all, ask for help if you're stuck. Send me (Julie) an email with any questions or to set up a time to meet.

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. Use the Search Tips tab at the top of this guide for tips.

  • 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. 

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!


Julie Gilbert's picture
Julie Gilbert
Hello! I'm on sabbatical during the 2020-2021 academic year. If you have a question about research, an assignment, or the library, please contact any of the reference librarians at or via the Ask Us! button on the library's homepage.

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, call numbers A - PQ  are on the Third Floor 

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

Oversize are on the Third Floor, Beck Hall side

Reference are on the Second (Main) Floor, Beck Hall side

Browsing are on the Second (Main) Floor near the entrance

Young Adult & Children's Books are on the First Floor 

AV materials (DVDs, etc) are on the First 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. This page has information about loan periods, renewals, etc. 

In the Reference Collection

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