General Research Guides

Library Crash Course

The Most Important Things to Know about Using the Carleton Library and its Collections

  • There is no such thing as a dumb question; when in doubt, ask at the Research/IT desk.
  • Librarians are here to help you. You can set up an appointment or drop by the Research/IT Desk.
  • Budget your time wisely; start sooner rather than later.

Selected Resources

This resource is intended to introduce you to some basic library tools we have available in the Carleton Library. It is not a complete list, but merely a sampling. Most of the items listed below are located in the Reference Collection on the 4th Level. Please don't hesitate to ask a reference librarian if you're not finding what you need.

The Library Catalog, the Bridge, is the Main Finding Tool for Books

The most important tool needed for using any library is the library's catalog, often referred to as the Online Public Access Catalog, or OPAC.

Use the Carleton Library catalog to find books (monographs) and other "book-like" resources such as:

  • bibliographies; encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, almanacs, atlases, gazetteers, etc.,
  • as well as periodical titles

Bridge is the nickname for the joint Carleton and St. Olaf Librarie's OPAC.

In addition to Bridge, you can search for books at other libraries using WorldCat.

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Background Sources - Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Guides

Use these sources at the beginning of your research to get an overview of a topic or to identify synonyms or related terms that will apply to your topic.

Ref Z253 .U69 2003
The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Closed Reserves LB2369 .G53 2003
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 4th ed. New York, NY : Modern Language Association of America, 2003.

Ref AE5 .E363 2002
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th ed. Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, c2002.
In-depth, scholarly articles.

Dictionary Stand Ref PE1628 .M36 1998
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, c1998.

Ref BF76.7 .P83 2001
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001.

Ref LB2369 .T8 1996

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th ed. rev. by John Grossman and Alice Bennett. Chicago, IL : University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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Bibliographies save you time because the author has done the work of searching catalogs and indexes to find information on the topic. Many bibliographies also contain annotations of the works that they mention.

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Indexes and Abstracts: Tools for Locating Articles

Turn to indexes and abstracts to identify articles on your topic appearing in publications such as scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers. Some indexes and abstracts cover general information while others specialize in information about a specific field or discipline. Many of our indexes and abstracts are available online asdatabases. You can browse our databases alphabetically or by subject. If you're not sure which databases to use, ask a reference librarian or look at our subject guides.

Indexes and abstracts may lead you to scholarly as well as popular journals. To determine the difference between these two categories of publications, review this table.

Although indexes and abstracts commonly list articles from periodicals, some also identify additional sources such as book chapters and special reports.

If you want to know whether Carleton subscribes to a particular journal, magazine, or newspaper, perform a title search in Bridge using the exact title of the journal you're looking for.

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Library Materials Beyond Carleton

  • Carleton/St. Olaf exchange
  • InterLibrary Loan Services
  • To use InterLibrary Loan, you must:
    • identify the material needed
    • complete and submit form
    • budget time (while some material arrives quickly, it can take a few weeks for it to arrive)
    • use materials promptly when they arrive
  • Types of materials available via ILS:
    • books
    • copies of periodical articles (often electronic, sometimes photocopies)