Academic essays help: researching in the library

Why use the library for research?

These days, many students feel it is not necessary to do any research online. With the advent of the internet and the widespread availability of online databases and academic search engines such as Google Scholar and World Cat, a number of undergraduates have never used hard references to improve their own writing.

The temptation to rely on internet based resources is completely understandable. The internet is always open and available, even when you are writing a paper at midnight in your pajamas. While it would be unrealistic to discourage using the internet, if you rely on it exclusively, you are seriously missing out. Do not limit your research to what is quick and easy to find. Be willing to go digging for some more obscure, higher quality research data.

What does a university library have that the internet does not have?

A number of academic journals are available at the library, including current issues and back dated copies going back many decades (or even a century or more). Often, journal articles are buried behind an expensive pay wall on the internet, so they are not readily accessible to the average student. Furthermore, most journals have not uploaded their complete archives to the internet, so back dated issues may only be available for the past decade or so of publications. This is not a problem when accessing library stacks.

Archival research is also more easy when conducted in a library. Your university probably has rows and rows of primary sources from past time periods, including a number of newspaper articles, interviews, student papers, scientific periodicals, monthly magazines, books, and pamphlets. Many of these records are not available anywhere else; they can not be purchased or downloaded online. You also have access to census data and national election surveys at the library, going back to the beginning of the United States. Some of this data has never been digitized, so the only way to locate it is to go into a library.

How do you use a library's research resources?

If you're a millennial or a digital native, you might not know how to navigate the Dewey decimal system, and may find library archives to be utterly intimidating. But one of the many advantages of using a library is that every library is staffed with an expert set of researchers. Do not hesitate to consult your librarians for help with locating sources and collecting data for your papers.