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FTS: Now You See It: Exploring Sources

Narrative, empathy, self-discovery


Through narratives, we channel dreams and nightmares of ourselves. We gather all that we never bring to the surface, and much of what we push to the cellar (or the attic). We may lose innocence, shake our beliefs, and refashion our way of thinking, speaking and acting. To “know thyself” suddenly requires to find oneself in the voices of others we hear on the way—written, filmed, spoken. - Darío Sánchez-González

image by Kenneth Lu, 2007


Find books, films, academic journal articles

As you use these library tools, think about new keywords to try and limit your search using filters for format and date, found on the left-hand side of your search results. 

What floor is it on?

Books in the general collection with call numbers starting with A - PQ are shelved on the upper level

Books  in the general collection with call numbers starting with PR - Z are on the main floor

Many books on reproductive technology are found in a book case near the front door; these have a call number ending with Entrance Display

Useful Google hacks

  • Limit a search to recent publications: at the top of your search results, click on tools and choose a time period (helpful if you want up-to-date information)
  • Limit a search by domain type: transgender youth
  • Put a phrase in quotes: "all about my mother" 
  • Not sure where a page comes from? Delete everything in the URL after the first / to go to the root page 
  • Select News or Video at the top of your search results to focus on those kinds of sources.


Google's business model is sometimes called "surveillance capitalism" - in the name of "personalization" they watch what you search for so that they can create a detailed profile of you, which makes it easier to sell tailored advertising. When you want to break out of an assigned cultural identity, this invisible editing of your search results is problematic. Try one of these strategies to outfox Google's all-seeing eye. 

  • Use Startpage, a Dutch platform that makes Google searches anonymous. Google doesn't know who you are or where you are in the world. It also can't track what you're looking for. 
  • Use DuckDuckGo, which doesn't rely on Google at all and, while it's ad-supported, doesn't tailor ads to your search history. It doesn't have quite the reach as Google, but it's not evil.

Finding statistics

Who collects statistics? Governments, organizations, researchers, and pollsters. Some statistics are much harder to find than others. The US Census does not collect data on religious affiliation, for example, and their race and gender categories are extremely limited because it's hard to collect data on fluid (and often controversial) categories. How statistics are gathered, when, how, and by whom are all questions you should ask as you evaluate statistical information. Here are a few examples of places to find statistics. 


Wikipedia and beyond

Wikipedia is amazing. It's vast, it's updated constantly, and it is a non-profit volunteer-run project that makes it easy to find information. The reference lists can be great jumping-off places for research. But . . .  

Wikipedia editors and contributors are dominated by white men living in the United States. A lot of contributors who don't fit that profile, or who want to write about gender, social justice topics, or things the most active editors don't like have stopped contributing because they get tired of having their articles challenged, altered, or deleted. This affects what you'll find there. 

If you ever want to peek under the hood, click on the "talk" tab at the top of an entry. This is where you'll see what arguments are going on behind the scenes. 

If you want a second opinion, see if a reference book in the library might help. They aren't constantly updated and the references aren't linked, so you have to go onto the library's website to find sources listed there, but they can sometimes fill in the gaps. They can have a more specific focus than Wikipedia articles and the entries are written by people chosen for their expertise. See examples below. 

In the Reference Collection


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