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EN211B: Narrative and Descriptive Writing

Casey Thayer

Instruction Provided by Rachel O. Jorgensen

Library Resources

Library Catalog: The library catalog catalogs (naturally) books, periodicals, government documents, and audiovisual materials that Olson library owns. To find magazine or journal articles, use the resources listed below.

MLA Style Guide This is a basic guide - if you have any questions come up to the reference desk and we'll help you figure it out.

Reference Resources

Oxford Reference Online Premium: Available online, this is the portal to a comprehensive collection of reference sources: encyclopedias, dictionaries, time lines, maps, and many more. A useful tool at any stage of research.*

Oxford Companion to United States History: This online version includes over 1,400 entries written by some 900 historians and other scholars on America's political, diplomatic, and military history; also social, cultural, and intellectual trends, science, technology, and medicine; the arts, and religion. It is written for researchers, browsers, and general readers and addresses the totality of the American experience, its triumphs and heroes as well as its tragedies and darker moments.*

Journal and Magazine Articles

Academic One File: Journal articles from more than 8,000 scholarly and general periodicals across all fields of study. Indexing from 1980 to present; full-text from 1989 to present.*

JSTOR: Complete, searchable, full text articles from over 1,000 core scholarly journals, spanning from about 1878 to the most recent 1-5 years.*

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles: Not all articles are the same. The majority of articles that you will need to use for your research and assignments will need to be scholarly (sometimes also called "peer-reviewed"). This guide will tell you how to critique an article and decide if it's scholarly or not.

*These resources will require you to log in using your webmail id and password if you access them from a non-NMU internet connection.

Keyword Searching

Keyword searches are ubiquitous to library catalogs and article databases. In general the keyword strategy consists of:

1. Make a list of the keywords that describe your subject.

2. Perform the search

3. Refine keywords if necessay

***If you get zero results you either need to expand your search by using a more general keyword and/or using synonyms for your keywords. If you get too many results, your search should be narrowed by adding keywords to make the search more specific to your topic.***

Trent University in Canada has a good on-line tutorial for keyword searching if you get confused or need more help.

Remember, you have to command the database to do the search in a particular way -- the way that will provide you with relevant search results. This is done by combining keywords using the Boolean Operators and, or, not.

AND: Retrieves all terms.

OR: Retrieves items that have either one of two search terms.

NOT: Tells the database to ignore records that have a certain term. Ex: Brittany not spaniel . This search would retrieve articles that have the term "Brittany," as in the region, not the dog breed.

Confused? Justin Bloom at the University of Nevada, Reno does a good job of defining these terms at the Mathewson--IGT Knowledge Center.

***NOTE: These operators make it possible to do effective searches in almost any type of database. But, remember that the order of the keyword and Boolean operator combination will effect the search. For example, the search Brittany and cooking or history is not the same as Brittany and (cooking or history). The first search will look for "Brittany and cooking " or history. The second search will look for items with "Brittany and cooking" or "Brittany and history" - the parentheses command the database to search for the words in a certain order.


Library of Congress Subject Headings

Almost all academic libraries use the Library of Congress call number system to organize their collection. These call numbers are based on subject areas and each record of an item in the library catalog has one or more Library of Congress (LOC) subject headings associated with it.One of the easiest ways you can find appropriate materials for research is to do your searches in the library catalog based upon the Library of of Congress subject heading.

The easiest way to find the subject heading is to do a keyword search and find a resource that most closely matches your topic. In the item record you will find the subject headings that have been assigned to that particular item - you can either re-do your search using the search terms or use the hyperlinks in the item record to search for all books with that subject heading.

Here are some LOC subject headings that correspond to the topic for this assignment:

King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968

King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 - - Oratory

Speeches, Addresses, etc., American -- Washington, D.C., 1963

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809 - 1865

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 - - Assassination

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Death and Burial

...and, etc.

Library Help

If you're having problems finding materials for your assignment and want to ask a librarian for help, just come up to the reference desk. Or, you can get help via chat here

You can also email me at: rajorgen@nmu.edu

Library Hours
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Fri: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sat: 12:00 noon - 8:00 p.m.
For exceptions and full year hours