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Information Literacy Modules: Finding Tool Descriptions

Finding Tools

Finding tools will direct you to appropriate information sources needed. Standard finding tools include the library's online catalog, the library's electronic databases, and search engines such as Bing or Google. The chart below lists various types of information sources found in libraries and online, along with their finding tools:

This graphic shows a table with 4 column headings of: Source Type, Finding Tool, Example, and Purpose. The rows read as follow: Row 1, Column 1, Books. Row 1, Column 2, Library Catalog, Bibliographies, Search Engines. Row 1, Column 3, Print and eBooks. Row 1, Column 4, Extensive Coverage on One Topic or Theme. Row 2, Column 1, Newspapers. Row 2, Column 2, Databases, Bibliographies, Periodical Indexes, Search Engines. Row 2, Column 3, New York Times, Wall Street Journal. Row 2, Column 4, Current and Local Information. Row 3, Column 1, Magazines. Row3, Column 2, Databases, Bibliographies, Periodical Indexes, Search Engines. Row 3, Column 3, Time, People, Rolling Stone. Row 3, Column 4, Focuses on Popular and Current Topics. Row 4, Column 1, Journals. Row 4, Column 2, Databases, Bibliographies, Periodical Indexes, Search Engines. Row 4, Column 3, American Journal of Nursing, Nursing Education Perspectives, Radiologic Technology. Row 4, Column 4, Scholarly Research, In-depth Focused Articles. Row 5, Column 1, Multimedia. Row 5, Column 2, Library Catalogs, Databases, Bibliographies, Search Engines. Row 5, Column 3, Broadcast News, Documentaries, Feature Films, Educational Videos. Row 5, Column 4, Background Information, Current Information. Row 6, Column 1, Web sites. Row 6, Column 2, Search Engines, Bibliographies. Row 6, Column 3, News, Entertainment, Blogs. Row 6, Column 4, Up-to date Information, Statistics, General Background Information.

Library Catalog

To find books and other materials the Library owns on your topic you will use the Library Catalog. A library catalog is an organized and searchable database of all materials available in the library and provides information on the type, location and subject matter of those resources. In addition to locating materials available at the three SJR State Campus Libraries, the library catalog allows you to access resources available at all 28 Florida state and community colleges, as well as all 12 Florida public universities. Receiving items from other libraries is a free service called interlibrary loan. You can request items from other campuses or colleges using the Library Catalog's request feature. If you need more information about how to request items click here.

The Library Catalog does provide access to individual articles available in print or online publications. You can access the SJR State Library Catalog through the Library Catalog link found on the top navigation menu of any of the Library's web pages.

When should you use the library catalog?

  • To see what books and other items the SJR State Library owns on your topic.
  • To see where a specific item is located in the library.
  • To see what books and other items other libraries own on your topic.
  • To request items from other SJR State Campus Libraries, other Florida colleges, and universities.

What is a Database

Databases offer sophisticated searching capabilities and allow you to limit your results by a variety of choices such as date, peer-review, source title, etc. Help screens are available inside each database that offer valuable information on how to search that resource. Your campus Public Services Librarian can provide assistance with any of your online resources questions.

Research Databases

The SJR State Libraries' research databases contain articles published in magazines, journals, reference books, and newspapers. Most provide access to full-text articles, meaning that the entire article is available online. If the full-text of an article is not available, the research database will provide a short summary of the contents called an abstract. If you locate a relevant article in one of the online databases that does not provide the full-text, ask one of our librarians about obtaining the article from another library.

The databases are grouped by subject area. Our librarians recommend that students begin their research using one of the “Argumentative Paper Resources” category of databases, for example, Academic Search Complete, Academic OneFile and America's Newspapers. However, depending on your topic or assignment you may want to search one or more subject specific database. Each database provides a link to a description of the subject areas and types of publications contained in that database. Remember that information is produced for a variety of audiences with different levels of expertise; articles containing research written for medical doctors may not be easily understood by the general reader. Only currently enrolled SJR State students have access to the online databases.

Research databases are not "Internet/Web" sources. SJR State Library databases are available via the Internet, but they are available only to currently enrolled SJR State students. Most of the information you find in our databases cannot be found by searching Google or Yahoo.

When should you use the Library's research databases?

  • When you want to find articles on your topic in magazines or newspapers.
  • When you want to find argumentative articles on a controversial topic.
  • When you want to find peer-reviewed journal articles written by experts in their field.
  • When you want to find statistical information on your subject.

Argumentative Paper Resources

Watch the following video describing the various digital resources in the “Argumentative Paper resources” section of the database. You can access the SJR State online databases from the Library Page available through MySJRstate.


Search Engines

It is important to understand that not all online resources are created equal. Companies, governments, news organizations and organizations of all kinds now use the World Wide Web to publish information. But keep in mind as you research your topic that anyone with a computer can publish information on the Web. And they do!

A great way to assure that your online sources are reliable is to use the SJR State Library's online collection of databases to access articles and other information. These databases are available from any Internet accessible device and provide collections of articles from established publishers that have been checked for accuracy and reliability. They also provide sophisticated search capabilities allowing the user to search for information by date, peer-review and other important limiters.

The World Wide Web does provide some excellent information, including some information not available anywhere else. However, not everything on the Web should be considered appropriate research material for a college-level paper. We will discuss the various criteria used to evaluate the reliability of information at the end of this module.

When should you use search engines?

  • To find up-to-the-minute news and information.
  • To find company or product information.
  • To search for information from government agencies.
  • To connect to the SJR State Library's databases.


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