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First Year Seminar Support Guide

Introduction and About this Guide

This guide is designed to give you an overview of Belk Library's research resources as well as how to get help with the research process no matter the project or assignment. The boxes in the main column offer general information on academic libraries, Belk Library's website, how to find books and articles in Belk Library, being savvier users of the web, and evaluating sources once you find them. The boxes in the right column offer additional resources and ways to get help. Finally, at the end of the guide, get a quick overview of the various spaces and technology the library has to offer.

Note: when this guide is viewed on a mobile device it will display as one single column as opposed to two.

What is an Academic Library?

University Library: Books+

You can find a book by searching APPsearch, our online catalog, or by visitng a particular section in the library and browsing the shelves for books on a similar topic. APPsearch and the online catalog are both accessible via the tabbed searchbox in the center of our homepage. APPsearch is the default search. Access the online catalog by clicking the "Books and Media" tab in the searchbox. In addition to physical books, our online catalog offers access to ebooks and streaming films, as well.

What do you need to know once you find a book in the catalog?

  • Pay attention to the book's status to confirm if it is available and on the shelf
  • Books are organized by call number, which is library jargon for the book's 'address' on the shelf
  • We made finding books easier by adding a "Map It" button next to the book's status to show you the book's floor and shelf location 
  • Once you find the book on the shelf, use your APPcard to borrow it. You can do that at the main service desk on the first floor.

If you need a book we don't have, request it via interlibrary loan.

Here is a short video tutorial on using APPsearch to find books and ebooks:

University Library: Articles+

Your two primary options for finding articles are 1) using our single-search portal, APPsearch, which searches many of our most popular research databases at once; or 2) identifying individual research databases to search. Both options are available 24/7 via our website.

To maximize productivity, before you use any of our tools, be as prepared as possible with a list of search terms and a specific idea of what you're trying to find. 

  • APPsearch is accesssible via the searchbox on our homepage and is the default search.
  • Individual databases are accessible via the the Databases page on our website. The are organized by the type of source they feature, by name, or by the subject areas with which they're associated.

If you need an article we don't have, request it via interlibrary loan.

Here is a tutorial on using APPsearch to find articles. For individual databases, you can apply much of what is covered in the APPsearch tutorial as the features are similar from database to database. If you need help, contact a librarian!

Web and Media Literacy

When it comes to research (personal, professional, or even academic), many people start by going to the 'open web' and use their favorite search engine to find information (usually, Google). While this may be all a person needs for many topics, it's helpful to know that what is available through a Google search is only a tiny fraction of available information on any given topic. It's also helpful to know that Google (and social media platforms) are run by a complex set of algorithms created by for-profit corporations. You may not think this matters much for you but it does.

Part 1: Pulling Back the Curtain on the Open Web

Think back to the video from the Online Library Component explaining the open and deep webs. These short videos take a deeper dive on the open web:

  1. Who decides what I see online?
  2. What are algorithms and how do they impact me?
  3. What are fake news and information pollution?

Part 2: Use SIFT to Navigate "Information Pollution"

Now that you're more aware of your surroundings on the open web, what are some steps you can take to find the best information on any topic?

What people need most when confronted with a claim which may not be 100% true are steps they can take to get closer to the truth. This steps in this process only take a few moments to apply and can be a lifesaver:

  • (S)top: Check your emotions. If a claim causes strong emotion and that causes you to share a “fact” with others, STOP. You must fact-check this claim. In addition, if you get lost or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole during your investigation, STOP. Back up and start over. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions next time.
  • (I)nvestigate the source: Read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
  • (F)ind better coverage: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research or provided coverage that gives more useful information about the claim or the context of the claim.
  • (T)race claims, quotes, and media back to the original context: Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information. Relatedly, you can often 'click through and find'.

In general, you can try these moves in any order, and at each stage if you find success your work might be done.

Text from "Part 2..." Source: Plymouth State University

Spaces and Technology

Students using technology in the library

Don't forget that, in addition to research resources and support, Belk Library also offers many study, creation, and discovery spaces as well as cutting edge technology - all for free