Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Library Basics - Online Edition

Need to find resources for your paper or project? Here's a quick guide that will introduce you to some of the basic resources that you can use for your paper or project. This Online Edition focuses on just the resources that the library provides online.

Using Other Resources

Using other sources to help find your topic isn't something that automatically comes to mind in the search for a topic. However, it is an invaluable strategy simply because it lets you know something that is crucial--What has been written by people on various topics.  You may think you have a good topic, but if it's something that hasn't been written about before, you'll have a hard time finding resources for it. 

Here are a few strategies you can use when looking for topics:

  • Browsing Books and Articles: When you are browsing through book titles or journal articles, see what other topics others have used.  Take mental notes about how broad or narrow the topics are and choose a topic with a similar scope. A helpful way of thinking about papers and projects is that you are entering a conversation. Others have chosen the topic before you, you want to enter and engage in the ongoing conversations and the first thing to do is to figure out what the conversation is. 
    • For books, browsing online can be a challenge.  You can however get an idea of the books that would be near each on a shelf by, using the Browse the Shelf Feature. Just click the book title, and then on the Browse the Shelf link:Browse the Shelf location
  • Wikipedia: Though you may not want use Wikipedia as a resource for your project or paper, it nevertheless can provide you with a some ideas for a paper. (If you do want to use it as a source, make sure to talk to your professor first. Wikipedia is a tricky thing to use.)  One thing you can use Wikipedia for is to find a broad topic and then see potential for narrower topics.  For example, you can look at the entry for Indiana and see other entries in there. Look for names of people, places, and concepts to narrow your search.
  • Points of View Reference Center: The Points of View Reference Center is a good place to start if you are needing ideas for a paper. You will start off with fairly broad topics, say Gun control, but then if you click through the links in the Related Information area, you'll see related articles with narrower topics. Related Information
    • Clicking on "Points of View" will get you:Gun control results