We encourage the use of books in starting your research as the CSUSM collection is a hand-picked set of resources purchased for the courses taught in our university. This eliminates the problem of "too much stuff" as long as you strategize useful, relevant terms to type into the search box.
You frequently do not need to read the entire book. A chapter in a scholarly work may offer the information you need without reading the rest of the contents. Use the index and Table of Contents to see what is there on your topic and concentrate on that section.
The bibliography offered in a scholarly work leads to other books and articles on the same topic. Just keep in mind that the resources listed will be older than the book you are reading, so if you need the most recent studies, the bibliography will give you names of scholars on your topic, but not the most current research and writing.
Being that you generally use a computer to search for books or articles, you need to strategize search terms to find what you need. The computer is only going to look for exactly what you type and nothing else, so this is your chance to be smarter than the machine!
Using the example of 'child directed speech and motherese', here are terms that can return useful information in the library catalog.
- child / children / infant / babies
- first language
- acquisition / learning
- parent /mother / father
In looking at the results of the keyword searches above, you will see various subject headings. These are labels to precisely identify the topics discussed in the text. Here are some of the subject headings found:
Searching the Catalog
When searching the library catalog for books or media, there are some key pieces of information on the record screen for the title you are interested in.
- Location (Physical Holdings) is important, but before you look for the book or media,
- the Details field provides helpful information such as chapter titles to tell you more about the content,
- Citation information is what you will need to cite the source in your paper,
- Subjects will link to other related materials that didn't match your search terms,
- Bibliographies are a sign of scholarly work as well as providing leads to more resources,
- Full Text Available link denotes online access to an e-book.
No library in the world can hold all information on a topic, although some do try! You can easily expand your search for books by searching the CSU+ collection on your topic and requesting the material to be delivered to CSUSM for pickup (its free!) This usually takes 3-5 business days.
Going farther than CSU+ will require using the database WorldCat. This will search not only the CSU libraries, but libraries around the world. You can request these materials through Interlibrary Loan. These may take longer than CSU+ since they might be coming from outside California (expect 2 weeks or so.)
If you have a book title (from a bibliography or professor's recommendation), check our catalog, CSU+ and then request through ILL if you have not found it.
Please contact the librarian for help if things are not working the way you think or you want to find more than you have.