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Library Orientation

This guide overs an orientation to all the resources and services the library has to offer.

Where Do I Start?

Knowing what to do first when starting a research project can be confusing. The first rule of starting a research project is to understand the assignment - what do you have to turn in? What kind of materials are you required to use? If you have questions about this, always ask your professor.

Once you understand what you need to turn in, the second step is to gather some background information on the topic you're researching. There are various things you can do or use to gather this introductory information:

  • Talk to your professor about your topic. They know the subject in and out and will be able to help you focus on materials that will be useful.
  • Use your textbook. Read any section that deals with your research topic. Note any references made to other publications that could be helpful.
  • Consult a reference resource, such as an encyclopedia or dictionary. There are many academic reference resources available to you through the library.
  • Get help from a reference librarian. Librarians usually have a good idea of what materials are available and can help you access those materials.

Gathering Information to Start a Project

When starting a research paper or project you may not have a lot of knowledge of or information on the subject.  That's where reference materials come in. Things like:

  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Atlases
  • Thesauri
  • Handbooks

Reference materials are used to gain academically sound background information on a topic. This background information will allow you to begin your research with basic knowledge of and information on your topic.

The UDC Library provides access to multiple types of reference materials in a variety of subject areas. Many of the library's reference materials are available online. 

Library Fact: Many reference materials held by a library are not available for check out - they are available for in-library use only. This is done to ensure that all students have equal access to these helpful materials.

Online General Reference Resources

Reference resources are authoritative works that help you find summaries of information about people, things, and events. Reference resources often contain definitions, facts, timelines, and other helpful information. They are not comprehensive but provide great introductions to a topic. They're a great place to start your initial research and will help you find out more about your topic or idea.  Many reference resources also link or refer you to additional information.

Reference Guides

UDC librarians have prepared online guides, which address general subjects, more specific topics, particular courses, and even class assignments.

The information in these guides point to the best information the topic covered. They include information on books, articles, multimedia, and, sometimes, subject-specific information like topical research tips and career resources.

You can see the full list of guides here: