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REL 363: Missionary Impulse: Tracking Down Materials


Finding full 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 software 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 (or for a book you're using for research). The Library can almost always track down what you need FOR FREE.

Use the information on this page to track down full copies of materials. Sometimes it's easy and other times it's more complicated. Please ask for help if you hit a roadblock - this is one of the most common issues in research today and the reference librarians are experts in helping you overcome these obstacles. Contact any of us with questions (and you are always welcome to email Julie directly).

Interlibrary Loan

You can request books and articles from other libraries, a service known as Interlibrary Loan (ILL). This is a fantastic way to extend your research collection beyond the walls of our library. ILL is free for you. All you need to make a request is your Gustavus user name and password.

To request an article from a database, search within the database, identify the article you want, and - if it's not already full text in the database - click 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 (ask at the Information Desk or Reference Desk for help).
  • 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 from another library

When you request the item from another library, you'll be prompted to log on with your Gustavus user name and password. This takes you to a form, which you will submit to create the ILL request. Articles are sent electronically; it typically takes only a day or two for articles to be emailed from the lending library to you. 

To find books at other libraries, first search the Gustavus Library catalog. As you are looking at the results list, look at the options on the left hand side. Under Library, set the box to Libraries Worldwide. When you find a book that we don't have in our library, click the title. From there, look for the Request from another library button (under Access Options) & follow the prompts to log in with your Gustavus user name and password to request the book.

You can also use the Advanced Search and set the search to "Libraries Worldwide" - this option is near the bottom of the screen.

Books are physically shipped between libraries. It can take around a week for this to happen so please plan ahead. You will get an email when the book arrives to pick up at the Library's Information Desk. (Return ILL books to the Library once you're done.)

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.

Tracking Down Books

There are many ways to find books, also depending on where you're starting.

If you have a book citation, like from a bibliography or a recommendation from a professor:

  • Search the Gustavus library catalog to see if we have it here or at another library.
  • Request books we don't have by setting the search option on the left hand side to Libraries Worldwide. Once you find a book you like, click on the title & look for the option to request it from another library. (Consult the Interlibrary Loan box on this page for more information.)
  • NOTE: You won't be able to borrow ebooks from other libraries - this is a restriction set by ebook publishers. Check to see if there's a print copy instead to borrow.
  • You can also browse Google Books to see if part or all of your book has been digitized

Decoding Citations

In many cases, before you can track down full 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

Here are some of the main ways to track down hard copies of articles, depending on your starting point.

If you have a journal citation that you've found in another source's bibliography:

  • 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, use this form to create an ILL request. Fill out all of the fields marked with an asterisk (*). If you're not already logged in, you will be prompted to log in. 
    • If the link to the form doesn't work, you can access it by going to My Library Account, which you can find by first clicking Page Menu on the far left side of the library's homepage OR linked beneath the search box on the library's main page. Log in with your Gustavus user name & password. Click on "Requests" and then click on the blue "Create Request" box. 

Other ways to find articles: 

  • 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.  
  • Requesting Articles Through a Database - If we don't have the full text of the article in the 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 see the option to request it from another library. (Consult the Interlibrary Loan box on this page for more details.)
  • Print Articles in the Basement - We have a small 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 and are alphabetized by title of journal. Use the year and/or volume number in your citation to retrieve your article. These can be checked out.
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