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Frequently Asked Questions

Available Computers

Where can I find an available computer in the library (and elsewhere on campus)? Click here!

How-To Videos

The super-short video tutorials listed here are a great way to learn more about using the library. Each video is less than three minutes.

How can I find a book in the library?

What is I-Share? And how can I use it to order a book?

Quick Definitions

You've probably come across these library words before. Here's what they mean:

Article: A written composition published in a periodical. Generally speaking, articles are more narrowly focused than books.

Database: A database is an online collection of information in the form of full-text articles and/or citations. Databases are searchable in order to locate and sort information by topic/subject, author, title, and more.

Interlibrary Loan: A system that allows you to order books, articles, and other materials from other libraries across the country.

I-Share: A catalog of all the materials held by over 80 libraries across the state of Illinois. You can use I-Share to order books that our library doesn't own.

Journal: A type of periodical that publishes scholarly articles.

Periodical: A publication -- such as a journal, magazine, or newspaper -- that is published at regular intervals, such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. This on-going publishing schedule is one characteristic that distinguishes periodicals from books.

Popular sources: A popular source is typically written by a journalist for a general audience. Usually found in magazines, popular articles are brief (a few pages) and may include photographs or other eye-catching images. Popular articles do not offer the same level of in-depth research that scholarly sources do.

Primary sources: A primary source is an original material created within the cultural / historical context of the time period being studied. For example, if you are researching some aspect of the Civil War, primary sources could include: a newspaper article published during the war, the text of a speech delivered by President Lincoln, a diary entry written by a Union or Confederate soldier, or a legal document or map or letter created during the 1860s.

Scholarly sources: This type of source is written by an academic or researcher -- someone who has a background in the field and has expert knowledge on the topic. Likewise, their targeted audience is often other academics, students, or researchers. They are often published by a university press. Scholarly sources show evidence of thorough research in the form of numerous in-text citations and a lengthy bibliography. They tend to be long (20+ pages for a scholarly article is common) and because they use technical language specific to the field, they can be difficult to read unless one has a background in the subject. Scholarly sources are often described as peer-reviewed because they are only accepted for publication upon review by a panel of judges (other experts in the field). This helps to ensure that scholarly sources are high quality, reliable, and authoritative sources.

Secondary sources: A secondary source synthesizes other sources (sometimes primary sources) and offers analysis or commentary on a particular topic. Seconary sources can be popular or scholarly.