We’ve all had to do those huge research papers at some point in our lives. At first glance, they are daunting. We imagine hours spent clicking through websites on Google or scanning the library’s shelves for something, ANYTHING that could help. But when you have the right tools, research really isn’t all that bad, and the library has just the things you need.

Nowadays, we turn to the internet first when it comes to research. But the library can even help you in this department – want to find some quality website sources other than Wikipedia? Just check the Online Resources section of the Teens page. There you’ll find a huge list of web resources divided by topic; there’s everything from encyclopedias to literature databases to historical records. Some are just basic websites and others are high-quality sources that require your library card number (since the library is paying for membership). Just imagine – you now have access to all kinds of members-only sites like Encyclopedia Britannica for free! It’s definitely a resource you don’t want to miss.

Though we all love the web for research, there are some pesky teachers that insist on having real book sources, too. Have no fear! The library does that too (just in case you didn’t know). And guess what? You don’t have to worry about searching your entire local library for a book on your topic – you can simply go to the new online catalog, search for your topic, and put a hold on the books you want. That way you have access to the library’s entire collection rather than just what’s available at your local branch. It’s true that the library’s catalog can be a bit tricky sometimes, but I’ve found one method that works pretty well for searching. Type in your subject – let’s say the “Silk Road.” A whole bunch of different materials will come up – some may be good, others may seem totally unrelated. The best way to narrow it down is to find one source that looks good, click on it, and then look at the page that comes up. On the right side of the screen will be “Explore Further” with lists of Subject Headings and Tags. Clicking on one of these will run a more specific search on your subject in the library’s catalog, or you can even do a search of the whole web. Another option is to check if a list of “Similar Titles” comes up at the bottom. Both of these methods will lead you to other good resources.

Whether it’s websites or books that you want, the library is the best place to start for research. And best of all – you can do most of the searching right from home! Next time you have a big research paper assigned, check the library first.

Post by Callan, teen blogger

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