Skip to Main Content

Library Essentials by Johnnie Gray: Main

Intended as a basic introduction to library services, including searching databases and locating digital content.

Database Links

These are the most popular databases to find information in the form of scholarly articles, book chapters and other types of information.  Please note that your topics may slightly change based on how much information you find as you narrow (or expand) what you are searching for. 

Helpful Links

* An excellent bibliography helper online.

* Help with formatting citations.

* Zotero: a Firefox plug-in citation helper.

* Use Prezi instead of Powerpoint.

Library Basics

Egypt Image


Where do you start?  Here are the basics to get you started.

The Library Catalog Search will take you to the library’s online catalog for looking to see if we have a book. Once there it will tell you if it is available and what the call number is (we don't use the Dewey Decimal System here).  Search for subject or keyword if you don’t know what you are looking for.  Subject searching is more specific than the more general keyword searching. 

The Library databases are the place to conduct virtual research.  Thousands of periodicals are full text and indexed so that you can search for what you want.  Some will only have a citation and abstract, but don't get frustrated.  Some of the more popular databases are found on the left-hand side of this LibGuide.

Journal Finder - If you are looking for a periodical title, use the Journal Finder link.  If you have no idea where to start but need to find articles, start with one of the databases mentioned on the left hand side.  Journal Finder will let you know if we have a periodical physically in the library and/or which database it is indexed in. 

Understanding Citations


Primary versus Secondary Sources – A primary source is the actual information tied directly to an event or from that event.  A secondary source is regurgitated information that is relying on a primary source or maybe not. 

Abstract – Simply a summary of an article – do not use this to cite!  You must have an entire article when citing. 

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Article – Scholars in the author’s field critique the article and decided to publish and/or edit on the basis that it meaningfully contributes to the knowledge of the discipline.    

Search Tips -most search engines use these two basic ways of searching:

Boolean Searching – a funny word for using the terms and / or / not when using two or more search terms.

(ex. Japan OR Germany – would return anything on Germany or Japan; Japan NOT Germany – would exclude any results of Japan that mentioned Germany)

Phrase Searching – using quotes around two or more words to keep two or more words intact while searching. 

(ex. “Christopher Newport” or "On Top of Old Smokey")

      Don’t get frustrated when using a database.  Databases are typically indexed by humans and only respond to specific words when searching.  Not all databases use the same words to index articles.  Please keep this in mind when you search for the same words in different databases.  Use synonyms when searching if you don’t get many results.  Consult a thesaurus (either one within the database or a physical copy) if you are really having trouble.  If you find an article you like or one that is relevant to your search, see what keywords are mentioned.  Don’t forget to look at the references/works cited page of any article.  Someone has already done some research and you can use it to help you find more relevant articles or books.  The Trible Library has 280+ individual databases that will all give you varying results.  Consulting a reference librarian can help you find the best database for your information needs.  Remember, it is best to start with a broad topic and then hone it to something more specific.

      Interlibrary loan – available to you at no cost.  Register through the library’s website under “Get books from other libraries” located under Services.  Anything we don’t own – we can find it for you.  Please plan ahead.  If you'd like to go to other libraries in the area, you might want to get a VTC (Virginia Tidewater Consortium) card.  With this, you can go and check out a limited number of books from other libraries like William and Mary, Hampton University and ODU.  You can get the card at the library's circulation desk.

*Tip! – Did you know you don’t have to print out articles you find in a database?  Open the PDF and look for the disk icon and you will be able to save it to a jump drive.  If you don’t have time to read it to figure out if it is relevant to your research, this might be the best way instead of printing something you don’t need and possibly wasting your money.  Besides that, you can have a backup of items you are finding.  

**Doing a smart Google search – type (site:gov, site:edu or filetype:pdf) and then a search term to get better information than just a general search.  Google Scholar is great and will even link from articles into some of our databases, but not all.  It is not a substitute for searching within the databases we have. 

***Wikipedia – sure you can use it, but you really shouldn’t rely on it as completely factual.  One thing that Wikipedia is good for is finding other sources and getting general knowledge of a topic.  Most articles have links to websites and articles at the bottom of each entry.    


 When in doubt, see a reference librarian! 

We can help you find information on any topic or help develop your topic more. 

We are here to help you succeed.


Evaluating Websites - Tools to Use

Technology Services Librarian

Profile Photo
Johnnie Gray
Trible Library, Media Center, 2317D

Interlibrary Loan

Access the Interlibrary Loan system by clicking on the link above.
Your User Name is your CNU ID Number and your password for the system is the same one you use to log into MyCNU.

VTC Card

As a CNU student, faculty, or staff member you are able to borrow materials from libraries at other area colleges and universities that belong to the Virginia Tidewater Consortium (VTC) for Higher Education.  BEFORE you go to another library, you must fill out a short VTC application and obtain a borrower card at the Circulation Desk in the Trible Library.  You must present the VTC borrower card and your CNU ID at a member institution library in order to borrow materials.  The VTC cards are good for one semester.

Trible Library provides links to other websites to aid in research and is not responsible for the content or privacy policy of those sites.