Skip to Main Content
Library and Tutoring homepage

Information Literacy Modules: Types of Finding Tools

Types of Finding Tools

The term Finding Tools refers to electronic databases, as well as print publications.  Databases include library catalogs (materials owned by the library), periodical collections, image archives, film collections, etc.  Print publications include indexes and bibliographies, as well as the sections for a book.

Types of Finding Tools

Types of FInding Tools

1 of 18

We've discussed the different types of resources used to research an academic paper. We've learned that popular magazines differ from peer-reviewed journals. Newspapers generally provide information relevant to a particular geographic location. And that all information found online is not created equal. In this section we will focus on locating and accessing these resources through the SJR State Library.

2 of 18

Print Finding Tools

3 of 18

Indexes. Indexes can be found in various contexts.  A book can have an index in the back that explains where key terms and concepts are located within it.  Multivolume book sets can have an index at the end of the set that tells which volume to look for specific information (e.g. encyclopedias).  Or a set may have a cumulative index in the back of  each volume that looks at the present volume back to number one of the series.

4 of 18

Periodical Indexes. Indexes can also be sets of volumes that list how to find periodical articles on a given topic.  These indexes can be general or subject specific, and are arranged by month and year.  These are not found as often any more as databases have replaced them in most libraries.  Many electronic databases where originally designed to replicate these, and have evolved to include the full text content seen today.

5 of 18

Bibliographies. These are lists of materials (books, articles, videos, Web sites, etc.) produced on a subject.  The lists may be found in sections of books, at the end of articles, or as entire books.  Many times they are found in the form of cited materials in a book or articles, or as a list for further reading.

6 of 18

Books and eBooks

7 of 18

Books and eBooks do have various sections that can be used to find specific materials within the book and beyond.  The index and bibliography are mentioned above, and provide areas of the book to find specific information, as well as the ability to cross-reference materials.  The table of contents in a book is also useful to locate specific information and sections.  Many books also provide a user’s guide (normally located in the front) that explains how the book is set up, and the kind of information it is intended to deliver.  Many areas also have legends that explain the content depicted in a map or chart.

8 of 18

Electronic Finding Tools

9 of 18

Library Catalog. To find books and other materials that the Library owns on your topic, you will use the Library's online 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 online catalog allows you to access resources available at all 28 Florida state and community colleges, as well as all 12 state universities.   The library catalog does not provide access to individual articles available in print or online publications. You can access the SJR State online catalog through the Library link in MySJRstate.

10 of 18

Databases. A database is an organized and searchable collection of digital resources. Using the subscription digital resources provided by the SJR State Library is a good way to ensure you are getting reliable sources of information. Generally, the Library online databases offer collections of full-text articles from sources like journals, magazines and newspapers, or reference sources like encyclopedias or almanacs. eBooks and eVideos are also included in some of our databases.  Only currently enrolled SJR State students have access to the online databases. Instructions for accessing and searching the online databases are available here. You can access the SJR State online databases through the Library link in MySJRstate.

11 of 18

General Databases. General databases cover a wide range of subject areas and/or types of documents. They can be used when searching for background, and overview information about your topic. This is a good way to browse and start the search process. Some examples of general databases are:  Academic OneFile. Academic Search Complete. Expanded Academic ASAP. General OneFile. General Reference Center Gold. Sage Journals. Springer eJournal Collection.

12 of 18

Subject-Specific Databases. Subject-Specific databases are limited to a defined subject area.  They cover more specific topics within their subject area and  they do not include the wide range of topics that are normally found in general databases. Some examples of subject-specific databases are:  Humanities Source, (arts and humanities).  Educator’s Reference Complete, (education).  Computer Database, (technology). Lit Finder, (literature).  Nursing and Allied Health Source, (nursing and allied health).

13 of 18

Search Engines

14 of 18

Definition. search engine.   noun. Computing a piece of hardware or software designed for searching,  esp. a program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to one or more keywords specified by the user;  spec. such a program used to search for information available over the Internet, using its own previously compiled database of Internet files and documents. “search, n.

15 of 18

The Internet (Web) has created an ocean of information presented in a vast array of formats. Web pages, articles from online databases, videos, blogs, social media sites and more can be found online. Search engines such as Google or Bing are gateways to this myriad amount of content on the World Wide Web.  Some of the information on the Internet is free, such as information provided by Government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations, but some can be very costly. It is important to understand that not all information available on the Web is accurate no matter how professionally it is presented.  As discussed in the Evaluating Sources section of this module, evaluating the quality and reliability of online resources is very important.

16 of 18

Top Search Engines. Yahoo! Excite. Duck Duck Go. Google. Ask. Aol. Bing.

17 of 18

CAUTION: Search engines such as Google or Bing are gateways to the content of the World Wide Web.   A Web site may look attractive but it's possible for anyone to publish on the Web.   It is important to understand that not all information available on the Web is accurate no matter how professionally it is presented.    Best to use the College's subscription digital resources so that you may be assured that the resources have been vetted and deemed reliable for academic research.

18 of 18

Types of Research Sources

Understanding Databases

Library Databases vs. Search Engines

This video from the University of Otago further explains the differences between library databases and search engines and when to use each finding tool.

The Web and the Library: Which One Should I Use?


<< Selecting Finding Tools                                                                                      Information Timeline >>