Using Library and Research Resources
Researching and critically analyzing information are vital skills for college students. The library is an excellent resource to help you further develop these skills. This section provides general information to familiarize you with research resources and library functions. For more information, see the list of resources to the right to connect with your local library.
Please contact a librarian if you have questions or need assistance as you use these resources.
The library and its staff are here to help you. Libraries have two main types of public service areas. They may be combined at a single service desk or separate.
1. Circulation / Access Services
This is where the library's collection is managed. Services include:
- Checkout / Return - This is where you can use your library card to "check-out" or borrow library-owned items such as books, magazines/journals, DVDs/CDs, laptops, headphones, etc.
- Reserves - This is where materials are placed in the library for certain classes at an instructor's request. Some reserve materials must be used in the library; others can be checked out. Your instructor/syllabus will tell you if there are materials on reserve for your class.
2. Reference / Information
This is the place to get one-on-one help with library research. Staff at the reference desk can help you:
- Choose and narrow a topic for your assignment.
- Develop an effective research strategy.
- Locate resources with useful information on your topic.
- Cite the resources you use to avoid plagiarism.
3. Additional Information
College libraries are designed to support students working on projects of all types. Ask at your library to find out if there's a place where you can:
- Study quietly on your own.
- Work with a group.
- Use a PC/laptop/other technology.
- Have a snack/drink.
Remember, many library resources can be accessed from anywhere you can get online. Examples include:
- Library catalog
- Electronic books
- Full-text magazine/journal articles
- Streaming video
Oftentimes, librarians and other library staff are available from anywhere, as well. Check your local library's information to find out how to reach us by phone or online.
Students who develop a valuable skill known as "information literacy" get better grades on tests and in classes, and are more likely to finish their studies. The Association of College and Research Libraries defines an information literate person as one who "recognizes when information is needed and has the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." The sections on Research Strategies and Research Tools will get you started on the path to information literacy.
Research Strategies and Tools
Did you know information has a predictable cycle? Understanding the cycle of information is very helpful when you're trying to figure out what types of resources might be available and/or useful for your project. This short video provides an excellent overview of this topic.
- MnKnows Online library services including an "Ask a Librarian" service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- WorldCat Search for collections and services of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide.
- Electronic Library for Minnesota (ELM) Find articles and media resources in various online databases.
- Google Scholar This allows you to do a focused Google search on scholarly articles, legal opinions and journals.
- Academic Advising
- Admissions, Records and Registration
- College Catalog: Academic Programs Overviews, Requirements and Course Schedules
- DARS: Degree Audit Reporting System
- Disability Support Services
- International Student Services
- The Learning Center
- Multicultural Student Services
- Student Support Services Program/TRIO
- Supplemental/ Career and Technical Services
- Tutoring Services
- Veterans Services
- High School Student GPS LifePlan