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Library 101: Finding the Information

A guide to help you make the most out of your library experience. Learn what types of resources we have, and how you can get and use them.

Finding the Information

Before you actively begin looking for information, it helps to complete a couple of tasks first.

  1. Develop a research question.  What do you want to accomplish with your research?  What question do you want to answer?  This is your research question, and it will guide you in your search for information.  Make sure it is specific enough to allow targeted searching.  See the Identify a Need for Information page for more about research questions. 
  2. Choose keywords.  While search engines like Google allow for natural language searching, most databases and catalogs make use of keywords, which can also be used on Internet search engines.  These are the major terms of your research question, along with synonyms for those words, and terms for similar concepts.  If your search question is "Does education play a role in reducing juvenile delinquents’ return to crime?" you might have keywords such as education, juvenile, crime, youth, delinquency, school, and recidivism.  These can be combined in different ways to return a variety of results.


Check out this video on how to choose keywords, from the McMaster Libraries.

McMaster Libraries. How Library Stuff Works: How to Choose Keywords. YouTube. Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)


Some questions to ask yourself before you begin searching include:

  1. How much information do I need?
    • Have you been given a specific number of sources that you must have, do you need an exhaustive search for everything you can find, do you jsut need enough to give you a background into your topic, or are you somewhere in between?
  2. What type and format of information should I be looking for?
    • Do you need academic journal articles, magazine or newspaper articles, books, statistics, journals, personal narratives, etc?  What is most likely to meet your information need? 
  3. Where am I likely to find the information?
    • There are many places you can go to for information.  The Library catalog and databases are available to you as a student at Northeast State.  You can also find information in print books (located through the catalog at school), the Internet though search engines such as Google and Bing, personal interviews with experts, and more.  


Using your keywords and the answers to these questions, you are now ready to start finding your information.


Take a look at the video below from Oklahoma State Libraries to learn more about where and how to search for different types of information.


OKStateLibrary. Inform Your Thinking: Episode 6 - Search Smarter. YouTube. CC BY-NC 4.0.


Finding information through the Northeast State Wayne G. Basler library can be done in a couple different ways.

You can use the Online Library Catalog to search for physical books in the library, eBooks available online, streaming videos, DVDs, and articles of all types.

The video below is an introduction to using the Library Catalog.


Instead of using the Online Library Catalog, you can search the databases (collections of online sources such as articles, eBooks, and streaming video) directly for our online content.  Below are videos of how to use our most popular databases and providers.


Sometimes you need to do a general Internet search for information, using a search engine such as Google.  This video from ISU will help you learn how to use the advanced search options available in Google.  Google Scholar is another option for searching for information on the Internet.

Emma Wilkes. Google Advanced Searching. YouTube. Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)


Google Scholar is another option for searching for quality information on the Internet.  To get results available from Northeast State, you can go to Settings -> Library Links and add Northeast State Community College to your list of libraries.