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Reference Services  

e-books, databases, citing sources, website evaluation
Last Updated: Aug 28, 2015 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

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Searching the Online Catalog


Begin searches according to:

  • author
  • title
  • subject
  • keyword



Book search methods:


  • On the library home page, look for the Articles & databases tab located near the bottom of the page.
  • Pull down the list of library Databases. 
  • Choose databases by title


Use Boolean Operators (And, Or, Not)



Basic Library Resources

A really thorough research process begins with consulting reference tools - general encyclopedias, specialized encyclopedias and other kinds of reference tools that may be particular to your topic's own field. Whether you access these reference tools as books or you access them on the Web, an important early part of any thorough research process is learning what sources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica say about your topic or about the subject heading that is closest to your topic. Start with general encyclopedias, then go to specialized encyclopedias and/or dictionaries (there's a great list of online encyclopedias and dictionaries at and then in the library go to your online catalog's Reference Books to discover what other specialized reference tools there are for you to consult.


Starting Research?

Starting your research by consulting general reference tools and then moving on to specialized ones gives your research paper a kind of background depth and texture that is hard to come by any other way.

Researchers who start by diving right into the Web or the library catalog often write papers that, by comparison, are much more shallow. Often it is the information based on the subject-potential questions (for example), "the real economics of recycling" that makes the most interesting research papers. Students who dive right into the middle of their topics may miss these potentially rich shadings of their topics entirely.

Subject Guide

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Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan refers to book or journal articles that are not a part of the Shaw University library collection. These resources may be requested from other libraries. Shaw University is part of the worldwide interlibrary loan system (Worldcat) that allows access to books from thousands of libraries all over the world. Students, faculty, and staff may request a book or article by filling out a form while in the library, or by using the online interlibrary loan form.

Obtaining Books

Books borrowed from other libraries sometimes may take up to four weeks to arrive.

Obtaining Journal Articles

Articles from other libraries may take up to four weeks to arrive.

Charges for Loans

Most Interlibrary loan books are free from the lending institution, and therefore, free to students and faculty.


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