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Library Learning Information Center

Library Research

 Where do I begin?

SUBJECT: research skills

LEVEL: beginning

PURPOSE: to help students develop skills in the beginning steps of the research process

SYNOPSIS: a video showing how students work their way through the research process. Starting with the Library of Congress List of Subject Headings, students generate topic ideas and narrow their focus. After choosing a topic, students use general encyclopedias to find initial information about their topic. This step also introduces the reference collection and LC call numbers. Students then locate specialized encyclopedias by asking a librarian who tells them to use subject searching in the online catalog (VALCAT at Delta) to find the appropriate call number for their subject. Next, students use electronic and paper periodical indexes. Finally, students go to the circulating book collection to find in-depth information on their subject.


Step One

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • Helps generate ideas
  • Helps narrow a broad topic
  • Sometimes includes LC call numbers
  • Shows how topics are listed in the library's catalog

Step Two

Using General Encyclopedias

  • Contains survey articles about many topics
  • Often found in the Reference area with a general LC classification number such as AE for Encyclopedia
  • Outline topics to make subject divisions of topics clear

Step Three

Using Specialized Encyclopedias

  • Contain more detailed information
  • Contain bibliographies leading to other works
  • Often found in Reference area with a subject-specific LC classification number such as QE Astronomy

Step Four

Using Periodicals

  • Contains short but focused articles about topics
  • Can be either from popular magazines or scholarly journals
  • Older coverage dates or specialized periodical indexes may be found in paper format
  • Periodical indexes vary by scope of coverage (general to specialized) and by reading level (popular to scholarly)
  • Many periodical indexes are accessed electronically using computers

Step Five

Using Circulating Books

  • Contains in-depth coverage of a topic
  • Are shelved by LC classification number with their subject group such as QE Astronomy

Delta College - Library (110)
1961 Delta Road
University Center, MI  48710
Phone:  989-686-9016
Fax:  989-686-4131

Last updated: 5/10/2010


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