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ENGL 1010 - Murdock-Hinrichs

Why Books?

Books and journal articles are the most common way to access scholarly research in your field, but each has advantages and disadvantages. Books take longer to research, write, and publish, so they will never be about an event that happened a month ago. However, books are able to:

  • place a topic within a bigger picture (aka contextualization),
  • provide more expansive coverage of a topic, and
  • draw upon a wider range of preexisting scholarship.

Books also excel at placing an argument in broader thematic and disciplinary context.

In class we started our search with a very simply idea that we could only represent in a couple of words. If you already have a research question or thesis, then you have a much more expansive vocabulary you can call upon to pull out all the resources in our collections that might be of value to your research. This 4'09" video demonstrates extracting key search terms and phrases from a research idea.


Since we are meeting virtually we won't be able to do my favorite exercise for finding physical books out in the library. This video, created by the librarians at Pollack Library (University of California, Fullerton), explains how to read a call number, how call numbers are organized on a shelf, and how to find the call number in Library Search. Keep in mind, the video uses the Pollack Library search interface in this last part but we happen to use the same system so expect small differences but the concepts remain the same.

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