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How to Search the Library and Databases

Learn how to search effectively in library catalogs and databases

Introduction to Searching for Sources through the Library

What you'll find in this guide: 

In this guide, we will go over tips and tricks to help you with your research. You'll become familiar with the library's homepage and catalog. 

The following pages will guide you to:

  • Discuss how to effectively use keywords and subject terms
  • Become familiar with the library homepage
  • Use the "Start Your Search" tool to find journal articles
  • Learn how to find items in the library catalog


Why search for sources through the library? 

It may seem that everything you want to know you can find through Google, but there are many sources to which Google will not connect you. In particular, if you want to view scholarly sources that have strong authority, you'll need to use books and scholarly journal articles. 

Some scholarly journals are freely available, but most are only available through a paid subscription. The Leatherby Libraries subscribes to over 300 databases in order to connect you to journal articles, e-books, and other sources with high scholarly authority. 

Searching is an Iterative Cycle

Iteration (noun): a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to the desired result.

Research is an iterative cycle, meaning you may need to repeat your search several times. You will need to adapt your search strategy based on the results you receive. You may get too many results--or too few! On the first search, you may not know all the right words to use or all the right places to look. It is normal to feel uncertain and that's okay!

“Iteration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2020.

"Searching is an Iterative Process." New Literacies Alliance, 27 Jun. 2018, Accessed 23 Jun. 2020.