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Introduction to Library Resources: I need sources for a paper, where do I start?

This guide is to give you an overview of resources available through the Drain-Jordan Library, similar to what students will learn in our Library Introduction classes.

What you'll need to check out Books, Laptops, and use Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

I want to check out a book, but I have never been in the library before. What do I need to do?

Great question! Every library is a little different, but here is what you'll need to do to check out a book at the Drain-Jordan Library.

1. You'll need to have a current student, faculty, or staff ID. We do make some exceptions for alumni, but you will need to get permission from a Librarian.  We also allow community members to apply for a card, but you will need to have an ID and fill out a Special Patron ID form and get it approved. 

2. Stop by the circulation desk (located right when you walk in to our main entrance). To apply for a Library Card you will need to fill out a short form. This only takes about ten minutes, and will only need to be done once. This is how we keep track of everyone so we can make sure to get our books back. This is not a physical card that we give to you, but rather one that we keep for our records.

3. Once you've filled out a form and we have a library card on record, all you need to check out books, laptops, and use Interlibrary Loan is your student ID or drivers license. Happy reading!


The Drain-Jordan Library currently gets daily newspapers from the Charleston Gazette. The WVSU school newspaper can be found online at YJOnline.

Print newspapers can be found in the Periodicals section of the Library.

Using Library Resources

I'm in the library and looking for sources; where do I start?

We know it can be overwhelming to find good information, especially if you've never been in the library or used our resources before.

Luckily, you do not need to be a student or faculty member to use our online resources if you're on campus. You can login to any of our journals, databases, and other resources for free from the library or your laptops, as long as you're using the school's WiFi.

If you're starting a research paper and need a physical/print copy of a book, we suggest starting with our online Library Catalog. If you're in the library just log on to any computer in the main lobby or Library Learning Center (LLC), and open up any browser. This will automatically take you to the Library homepage.

The Library Catalog will pull up many types of resources, both online and in print, but for you the most valuable thing it will do is tell you: what format the book is in (print or electronic), where it is located in the library, if it is currently available, and if it can be checked out. This last one is important because many great sources, such as reference books and periodicals, cannot be checked out and must be used within the Library.

I've found a book using the Library Catalog! Now how do I locate it in the Library?

The Drain-Jordan Library's main book collection, where you will find the majority of your print resources, is organized into 4 tiers. You will need to know your book's Library of Congress Call Number to find books on each tier. This number will be listed alongside each resource in the Library Catalog. Here is an example of how the LC call numbers are formatted: F74.S1 H237 2017

For more information on finding books on the tiers, and using the LC classification system, check out our Library Catalog tab on this guide.

I've found a periodical (magazine) that I want to use! Where are they in the Library?

Great! Periodicals can be a great resource for public opinion or public interest papers, and we have a wide variety to choose from in the periodical section of the library. This area is located to the right when you walk in to the Library's main entrance. Periodicals are a little different than books, in that they are organized alphabetically by title rather than by call number. You might also have heard of them referred to as serials, which is why they are identified with an serial in the Library Catalog. We also have bound periodicals in storage, and older editions in microfilm that you may need help locating. If you can't find the periodical you're looking for through our card catalog, try using Journal Finder. For more on using Journal Finder see the Journal Finder tab on this guide.

If you're having trouble finding periodical information, please don't hesitate to contact the periodicals librarian.

What are Reference books, and where can I use them?

Reference books are a little different than other books in that they are specifically intended to be used to find information. This means that they are generally not intended to be read all the way through, but rather consulted on specific matters for research or curiosity. Additionally, reference books cannot be checked out, so you can only use them in the library. This is because many reference books are often part of a series or collection, so if one was lost or stolen then we may have to replace the whole set.

How do I know if a book is Reference or not? Well, when you do your search and find a book in the catalog, instead of saying what tier that book is located on it will say "Reference Room regular shelves" or "Reference Collection." The reference collection is located on the left-hand side after you come in the main entrance. For more information on reference, and to contact the reference librarian, visit our Research/Reference page.

If none of this was helpful, you can also check out the "Not Sure Where to Start" or "User Education" pages on our Library website. 

I can't find the book I want in your catalog! Is there another option for sources?

If you need a print copy of a resource, and we don't have it here, you can always use Interlibrary Loan. This is a great service that allows us to order materials from other libraries, and have them ship it to us. This generally takes between 1-2 weeks, and then you can check it out like any other library book and return it at the end of the rental period. For more information on ILL, see the Interlibrary Loan box on the Home-FAQs page of this guide, or click on the Interlibrary Loan link above.

I don't want or need print resources, I would like to get all my information online.

We know a lot of students are distance learners, off campus, or simply prefer to access content online. We have resources for that! We have over 60 academic databases available for students, faculty, and staff to use. These include hundreds of academic journals, with millions of articles. For more on accessing this content, visit the Database Introduction and Off Campus Access tab on this guide.

Having trouble finding what you're looking for? Google it!

Google Web Search

Although we don't recommend using Google as your primary source of information, it can be a great tool if you know what sites to use and how to determine what's accurate and relevant information. The best sites for academic research are generally .gov and .edu, because they tend to avoid ads, contain less bias, and update regularly. We have already included the government and education site limiters in the search box above, so simply type your search terms before or after the text in the box and you can get started finding great resources.

If your search is still pulling up .com and .org sites, try using Google's "Advanced Search" options.

More Resources Available on our Library Website

For more on choosing a topic, evaluating a resource, citing, and tips and strategies, consult the User Education tab on our Library website.