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English & Literature

Finding Books

Most research assignments should have a combination of different source types within your research. Books are a great resource for doing research. E-books and physical books both fall into this category.

Books differ from peer-reviewed journal articles because books provide general overviews of a topic, whereas articles are shorter and more specific. 

Remember: You don't have to read the entire book! If there is one chapter in the book that works for your topic, just read that chapter. 

Find Books at the VCSU Library

Using the VCSU Library Catalog

The link to the library catalog will take you to an advanced search. Use these steps to fill in the search box: 

  1. Make sure the "library catalog" option is selected at the top of the search box.
  2. Enter the keyword you want to search.
  3. Add a second keyword to the next line if you want to be more specific.
  4. Click the "material type" dropdown menu on the right side of the box, then choose "books." 
  5. The language dropdown is right below the material type. Pick English from these options unless you specifically need a book in another language.
  6. If you need a book published during a specific time period, use the start date and end date options below the language menu to set a date range.
  7. Click search to get your results! 

Your results will come up as a list of sources with the ability to save links. Along the right side of the page is a sidebar with more filtering options. 

The sidebar is labeled "Tweak your results." Use some or all of the following tips to narrow down your results further: 

  1. Your results are normally sorted by relevance, but you can sort them by date, title, or author instead if you prefer.
  2. Use the "availability: section to choose what format of book you prefer. If you want E-books, choose "available online." If you want physical books, choose "physical items." 
  3. You can use the "subject" section to make sure you are only looking at sources from the fields of study you need. For example, If I want to research space exploration, but the search term "exploration" brought information about both exploring space and historical exploration of the United States, I can check here for ways to filter out the unwanted options.
  4. If you didn't add a date to your original search or if you don't like the date range you used, you can edit the date range under the "creation date" section.


Finding Scholarly Articles

These articles are basically the "bread-and-butter" sources for scholarly research - they're used in every discipline.

What does peer-reviewed mean?

If an article is peer-reviewed that means that before the article was published it was reviewed and scrutinized by other experts in the same field. This process ensures that the sources are reliable and trustworthy. 

Why you should use them:

  • Information is based on research and expertise
  • Information is detailed and focused on a narrow topic
  • The peer-review process (mostly) insures that the information is accurate
  • They add to a growing understanding of a topic by contributing new ideas

These source types may also be referred to as peer-reviewed article, academic article, or journal article

Here are some of the best databases to use for finding scholarly articles in english and literature: 


Literary Hub: Literary Hub (aka Lit Hub) is a website created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature to gather literary content into one place. There are articles about literary criticism, news stories about all things literary, and their own book review site. The book reviews are published on Book Marks and are created by collecting reviews from critics and other reviewers. They have their own rating system as well. Lit Hub and Book Marks are helpful tools for keeping up with the latest in literature.

Poetry Foundation: Find poet biographies and selected poems. Use the poetry tool to search by first line, category, the poet's location, and more. 

Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg is a collection of over 70,000 Ebooks available for free download. These Ebooks are typically books that are no longer under copyright, so they can be freely distributed without issues. This is a great place to access "classic" literature. 

Audio and Video Databases

This collection of databases is a good place to find audiobooks, videos, and more!

Finding Reference Resources 

Reference resources are great sources to provide you with background information or context for a topic. These resources can be dictionaries, encyclopedias, guides, handbooks, etc. 

The best place at the VCSU Library to find reference information is our Credo Reference Database