Get to know your library

The resources available to you will vary a lot depending on whether you're using an academic library at a large university, a public library in a large (or small) community, or a high school library. Find out early in your research project what resources your library has, by visiting and taking a tour, if possible. Some college libraries offer an online tour of the library or a self-guided tour using handouts in addition to tours guided by librarians.

Many people who use libraries don't make full use of the reference collection except for the encyclopedias, while reference librarians have spent large amounts of money and time in developing wonderful reference collections for research. See Reference Sources in Libraries (p. 29) to see a small sample of the kind of information may be hiding in your library's reference room.

Libraries build their collections based on what they think their patrons will need, so the collections of reference materials, fiction and non-fiction will differ between a public and an academic library. Be aware of what kind of collection you're working with, and make arrangements to visit a different library if necessary.

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