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Introduction to Library Research

This guide introduces library research and search tools.

Introduction to library research with a photo of a library book on a computer monitor

Learn how to identify your information needs, how to determine what type of source you are using, where to find library search tools, how to use library search tools to find sources, how to evaluate sources, and how to reuse those sources ethically. 

Recognize the Difference Between Google & Library Search Tools

Almost everyone has used Google (or another search engine) to find information. However, academic research requires going beyond Google and using library search tools to find credible sources. On Google, or other open web search engines, anyone can write and publish whatever they want. The library's research tools ensure the resources you find are good quality and reliable. Your instructors will expect you to provide quality resources beyond Google. NWACC Library search tools are carefully chosen by librarians to make sure they support scholarly research.

Google has taught us all 3 misconceptions that work against us when doing library research.

1. Ask a question; get an answer.
2. Click on the top results (and maybe only the top result).
3. Everything is a website.


Unfortunately, library research is a little more messy, but it can be learned!

Keywords not questions.
Filter, limit, and refine results.
Source types matter.

Meet the Deep Web

This video is licensed from Common Craft.

Dive Deeper

For a deeper dive, check out these guides, too!