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Library Resources and Searching

  1. Books
  • Reference books are good places to find general information on any  topic.
    Examples of types of reference books are: encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, bibliographic guides, atlases, indexes, yearbooks, almanacs,  etc. They also cover a wide range of subject areas. They include definitions, facts, terms, and bibliographies.
  • Bibliographies are lists of books or articles at the end of a reference book entry. You can  look up sources from the bibliography for more in-depth information on your topic. You can find the books on the shelves in the reference room or search for them on the online catalog. 
  • Circulating books can be checked out. They include more in-depth information on your topic. You can search for them using the library online catalog. You must have an activated FSU ID (your library card) to take these books out and you need to register at the circulation desk to activate your library barcode. These books are located in the library's stacks by Library of Congress Classification Number.
  • Online Databases such as WorldCat can be searched for books. For more information on them visit our database list in order to read database descriptions.

  2.    Articles

  • Print Indexes index both popular and scholarly journal articles. Use print indexes for articles published before the 1980s in most cases. Articles are indexed most frequently by subject but can also be indexed by author. Many of our print indexes are located in the index area. Once you find a citation for an article you would like to read you need to see if our library owns the journal by looking it up in the periodical holdings binders located in the computer area. A citation is all of the publishing information on the journal article including article title, author, journal title, volume number, and year. (Remember, that you need to make sure that FSU has not only the journal title, but the specific year that you need). In many print indexes, you need to look up your subject, alphabetically in each specific year. For example, in The New York Times Index, if you were looking up information on President John F. Kennedy, you might check the volumes on the years he was president (1961-1963) under his name. In some indexes, like Biological Abstracts, you can look up your article in the author index if you have the name of the author. In some print indexes, you may have to use one volume to find articles on your topic and then follow numbers assigned to articles on your subject to another volume of articles indexed by number. For example, in The Bibliography of the History of Art, to locate articles on the artist Henri Matisse published in 1997, you look up the artist's name in the cumulative index, vol., 7, 1997. Then, you would locate the articles in which you were interested and follow their numbers to the corresponding number volume for 1997 for the complete abstract.
  • Online databases can be both bibliographic and full text databases. They usually index articles  that can go as far back as the 50s but most go as far back as the 80s. Finding  the right database for your topic is important. The information available through databases is very current and updated daily or monthly.
  • Internet
    Search electronic journals and newspapers, organization's web site, newsgroups, directories, and other relevant information. For more information on the Internet see Lesson 6 The Internet.

3.    Audiovisual materials

The library has a small but rapidly growing collection of audio and video tapes and CDs. Search the liibrary catalog to locate these materials. The library also has some teacher's kits and photographs.

Search Features

  • Boolean searching 
    To compose complex search expressions use Boolean operators to connect your words or phrases in a Keyword or Advanced Keyword search. Boolean operators are 'AND' (Boolean AND), 'OR' (Boolean OR), and ' NOT' (Boolean NOT). Parentheses or quotes can also be used when conducting an advanced search. 
    For example the search : school AND (guns OR firearms) - will retrieve information about schools and guns as well as  schools and firearms. 

    Boolean 'AND'
    Example: nutrition AND cancer
    This will retrieve all records containing both keywords nutrition and cancer. 

    Boolean 'OR'
    Example: nutrition OR vitamins
    Results retrieved will contain either one (nutrition)  or the other (vitamins)  or both (nutrition and vitamins) at the same time. 

    Boolean 'NOT'
    Example: nutrition NOT vitamins
    The NOT operator will exclude vitamins completely and thus any 
    information about both vitamins and nutrition will be excluded also. 
  • Truncation
    Most electronic databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word or word root  to retrieve variant endings of that word, e.g., work, worker, workforce, workplace, etc. This is known as truncation. Different databases use different truncation symbols: $, *, ?, #, etc. In the Minuteman Library Catalog the ? replaces many characters at the end of the search term.
    For example: dream? can retrieve dream, dreaming, dreams, and dreamy.
  • Wild Cards
    Some databases allow for wild cards to be embedded within a word to replace a single character. 
    The characters vary with different databases. In the Minuteman Library Catalogue, The # replaces one character in your word. 
    For example, wom#n will retrieve woman or women or comp$tion finds composition, competition, computation, etc. 

Search Tip: To determine the symbols in the database you're using, check the online help screens or ask a librarian. 

Searching Techniques

  • Author Search
    To search by personal author, performer, editor, donor, etc.  select author search option and input the last name of the person followed by his/her first name. Usually no comma is necessary. For example, King Stephen and not Stephen King. When searching for a group, corporate or meeting name, enter the name in direct order. Include hyphens but drop all other punctuation. For example, Framingham State College. 
  • Title Search 
    It is easy to find a book if you know its title. You simply select title search option, enter the title in the box and click search. To perform a title search in a database you usually have to select the advanced search option and then title search. Search tips: Omit articles at the beginning of the title, for example: A Tale of Two Cities should be entered Tale of Two Cities
  • Subject Search
    The subject search option finds search words or phrases only in the subject fields. Subjects use controlled vocabulary, which is a standard set of words or phrases that reflect the topic of an item. Use this search when the subject term is known in exact order (words must appear in their exact order or will not retrieve relevant records). Search limits are not available for Subject searches. Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) do not function in Subject searches. Search Tips: Omit commas, periods, apostrophes, and most punctuation. Hyphens should be retained. Conduct a Subject search in one of the following two ways: 
    Consult Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in order to identify the correct subject headings, look at thesauri or indexing languages or ask a librarian for assistance. Enter search words or phrases found in LCSH in the box, omitting most punctuation.  You can browse the subjects and subcategories in a database. This is how the subject tree may look like:
    Music, Black
        See Black music
    Music Festivals
    Music in advertising
    Musical instruments
    Musical instruments, Electronic
    Musical performance
        See Music--Performance
  • Keyword Search
    A Keyword search retrieves items with given words or phrases located anywhere in a record. This search may be used for a single word as well as for more complex searches combining multiple words. The Keyword search allows users to make specific detailed search using Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT (with or without parentheses or quotes for grouping). Search Tips: It is important to  think about different keywords, synonyms, and concepts prior to beginning your search. You can brainstorm keywords, or read reference materials and detect keywords, you can browse indexing languages and thesauri or you can talk to a reference librarian. A keyword search on "death penalty", for example, will retrieve records that have the phrase "death penalty" in them but not necessarily items with the phrase "capital punishment".


For more information on this topic you may consult:

Morville, Peter. The Internet Searcher's Handbook. Neal Shuman Publishers, New York: c1996.
Quaratiello, Arlene. The College Student's Research Companion. Neal Shuman Publishers, New York: c2000.
Kuhlthau, Carol. Seeking Meaning : A Process Approach to Library and Information Services: 1993.

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