Long Island University C.W. Post Campus
C.W. Post Campus B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library

Library Workshop Manual : Section 1

Select (si·lektī) v. to choose in preference because of special quality or value.

This is an older version of the manual. The newer version is at http://liu.cwp.libguides.com/postfoundations

While in college you will need to research information for your papers and other assignments. Once you graduate, you will most likely continue to do research to make informed decisions in your job and your community. The skills you have and continue to develop will make the process of finding information for your assignments, your work, and your life much easier.

The combined resources of your library and the Internet create an almost endless amount of information available to you. With all of these choices, where do you find the answers?

In addition to an overview of the sources and services at our campus library, this section will focus on the different sources of information, where to find these sources, and how to choose the best ones for your research. After completing this section you should be able to:

  • identify a variety of information sources
  • recognize that appropriate sources of information will change depending on your needs
  • identify characteristics of information on the Web
  • identify characteristics of library resources
  • recognize that library collections are located in buildings and on the Web
  • recall what you would find in a periodical index
  • list reasons to use a periodical index
  • distinguish between popular and scholarly periodicals

LIU Post Campus - B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library

Mission and Goals

The B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library supports the LIU Post Campus of Long Island University in its goal to educate students to be productive, socially responsible, and broadly educated citizens. It does so by developing comprehensive library collections that support the curricula and by offering bibliographic instruction to help the students become information literate. Moreover, the library strives to employ the latest technologies to provide fast and easy access to information and to assemble an outstanding staff to serve the academic community.

Information Literacy

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has defined information literacy as the ability to locate, evaluate, and use information in order to become independent learners. An information literate student demonstrates the ability to:

  • recognize when there is a need for information and is able to determine the extent of that need
  • identify the information necessary to solve the problem and/or answer the question
  • locate and access information effectively in various formats
  • critically evaluate the information
  • organize the information
  • synthesize the information into a true solution
  • understand the legal and ethical issues associated with using information


The B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library, with over 1,000,000 volumes and more than 5,000 periodicals and newspaper subscriptions in its various public service departments, has a capacity of 2.1 million volumes and accommodates more than 800 students.

The library has grown from a basic collection started in the 1950s to a large and diverse number of collections. The Reference Department consists of an extensive reference and research collection of over 30,000 sources in a wide variety of areas, with particularly strong collections in law, art, and literature. The department provides access to electronic reference texts and fee-based computerized information retrieval from a broad array of databases.

The Government Information Department includes a Federal Depository (housing over a half million documents), a New York State Depository, and extensive microfiche collections in criminal justice and education, with print and computerized access to government information.

Current subscriptions to over 2,500 journals, and a large retrospective collection are maintained in the Periodicals Department, with print and computerized indexes to provide access to the material.

The Instructional Media Center contains a model children's library, curriculum and audiovisual resources and equipment, and production and preview facilities.

The Library and Information Science Library primarily serves students in the Palmer School of Library and Information Science. There are more than 19,000 volumes in this specialized collection and 260 current journals. You can find information here on such topics as computers, archives, knowledge management, literacy, and school media centers.

The Center for Business Research was developed through the integration of the former Nassau County Research Library with LIU Post's existing resources. A broad range of materials including trade magazines, company directories, international resources, Long Island files, and financial services make this one of the finest research libraries for business students and professionals in the Northeast.

The Special Collections Department houses such notable and rare holdings as the Winthrop Palmer French and Irish Rare Books, linked by the writings of Samuel Beckett; the William Randolph Hearst Art Archives, which records his vast collecting in text and photographs; the Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill library; the Theodore Roosevelt Collection of his life, times, and writings; and approximately 5000 original movie posters dating from 1940 to 1962. The Department also has LIU Post's archives, which includes all of the issues of the student newspaper, Pioneer, and the students yearbook, Opticon.

The LIU Post Campus Library Web Site contains links to information about the library, how to get started on doing research, the online library catalog, online databases, internet resources, and other library services. The web site can be accessed at: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/libhome.htm

Student Services


One of the most important resources the library has to offer is the special help that is available from its knowledgeable staff. Librarians are available to assist you with any questions that you may have. If you can't find what you need or don't know where to begin your research, ASK A LIBRARIAN. They are here to help you.

Library Hours

The library is open 86 hours a week, including nights and weekends, with special extended hours during final examination periods. The Library is generally open Monday-Thursday from 8am to 11pm and Friday and Saturday from 8am to 5pm and Sunday from 12 noon to 8pm, but always check for extended and holiday hours. Hours for the specialized departments such as the Center for Business Research, Government Information, Library and Information Science Library, the Instructional Media Center, and Special Collections differ so it is wise to check these hours. Visit the library's web site for any changes in library hours.

Borrowing Procedures

Currently enrolled L.I.U. students with updated, validated I.D. cards (and alumni with alumni cards) have full borrowing privileges. The main Circulation Desk for checking out books is located in the lobby near the exit door. The Library and Information Science Library and the Instructional Media Center circulate their own materials. The normal borrowing period for books is 28 days and you may renew for one more borrowing period. Instructional Media Center materials, other than films and videos, may be borrowed for two weeks.

Reserve Collection

Materials on reserve consist primarily of books and photocopied articles, which have been set aside at the request of faculty for your use. Unless otherwise indicated, the reserve status of an item automatically terminates at the end of the semester. Books that are currently on reserve appear in LIUCat with a due date of 08/08/08. Most reserve material can be found at the main Circulation Desk. The Library and Information Science Library and the Center for Business Research have their own reserve collections. Check in those departments for specific policies.


Equipment is available throughout the Library to photocopy microfilm, microfiche, books, and print materials. Each copy costs 10 cents. Machines to purchase copy cards are available on the main floor.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan expands the range of publications available to the LIU Post community. Students may request that publications not owned by LIU Post be borrowed from other libraries on a local and national level. Inquire at the Reference Desk or Circulation Desk for appropriate forms. This service is more appropriate for long-term research, and it is possible that it may take from four to six weeks to receive the requested items. For further information, see the Reference web site at: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/ref/refhome.htm

Sources of Information

Information can come from virtually anywhere -- personal experiences, books, articles, expert opinions, encyclopedias, the Web -- and the type of information you need will change depending on the question you are trying to answer. Look at the following sources of information. Notice the similarities between them.

Keep in mind the following three questions:

  • Which sources guide you to other information on your topic?
  • Which sources can you find online?
  • Which sources would you use when writing a research paper?


A magazine is a collection of articles and images about diverse topics of popular interest and current events. Usually these articles are written by journalists or scholars and are geared toward the average adult. Magazines may cover very "serious" material, but to find consistent scholarly information you should use journals.

Magazines, like journals and newspapers, are called "periodicals" because they are published at regular intervals throughout the year. Print magazines can be found in newsstands and libraries. Electronic magazines, called e-zines, can be found on the Web and sometimes in "digital library" collections.

Use a Magazine:

  • to find information or opinions about popular culture
  • to find up-to-date information about current events
  • to find general articles for people who are not necessarily specialists about the topic

Examples of Magazines:

  • U.S. News and World Report
  • Ebony
  • Wired


A journal is a collection of articles usually written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be accepted. Articles in journals can cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research. Since journals are published on a regular or periodic basis they are grouped in the category called "periodicals." Electronic journals, called e-journals, are published on the Web by some scholarly organizations and are made available to you from your library.

Use a Journal:

  • when doing scholarly research
  • to find out what has been studied on your topic
  • to find bibliographies that point to other relevant research

Examples of Journals:

  • Journal of Communication
  • The Historian
  • Journal of the American Medical Association

Online Periodical Index

A periodical index points to citations of articles in magazines, journals, and newspapers. Some periodical indexes contain abstracts or brief summaries of the articles. A few contain the full-text or entire content of whole articles as they originally appeared in the periodical. You may use many of the online periodical indexes, also known as databases, purchased by your library, from any Internet-connected computer.

Use a Periodical Index:

  • when you want to find articles on your topic in magazines, journals or newspapers.

Examples of Periodical Indexes:

  • Periodical Abstracts (a general periodical index)
  • Medline (a medical periodical index)
  • ABI/Inform (a business periodical index)


A newspaper is a collection of articles about current events, usually published daily. Since there is at least one in every city, it is a great source for local information. Newspapers, like journals and magazines, are called "periodicals" because they are published on a regular or periodic basis.

Many newspapers publish Web sites with today's news. The online copy of a newspaper can contain fewer articles than the print copy. Newspapers usually charge for access to online copies of older articles, but you can often find those articles at your library.

Use a Newspaper:

  • to find current information about international, national, and local events
  • to find editorials, commentaries, expert or popular opinions


  • The New York Times
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • The Washington Post

Library Catalog

A library catalog is an organized and searchable collection of records of every item in a library. The catalog will point you to the location of a particular source, or group of sources, that the library owns on your topic. Since every library collection is unique, every catalog is also unique. At LIU Post, if you are using any networked computer in the library you can search LIUCat. Some libraries put their catalog on the Web so you can access it from any Internet-connected computer. Our library catalog, LIUCat, is available on the web at: http://liucat.lib.liu.edu

Use the Catalog:

  • to find out what items the library owns on your topic
  • to find where a specific item is located in the library

Examples of Library Catalogs:


Books cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize all the information on one topic to support a particular argument or thesis. Libraries organize and store their book collections on shelves called "stacks." At our library, circulating books are shelved on four open stack levels. The entrance to the stacks (which also happens to be stack level 4) is off the lobby on the main floor of the library. Electronic books, called e-books, may be purchased online.

Use a Book:

  • when looking for lots of information on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument


  • Erb, Cynthia Marie. Tracking King Kong: a Hollywood Icon in World Culture, 1998.
  • Harris, Robert. A Guidebook to the Web, 2000.
  • Silverstone, Roger, ed. Visions of Suburbia, 1997.


Encyclopedias are collections of short, factual entries often written by different contributors who are knowledgeable about the topic. There are two types of encyclopedias -- general and subject. General encyclopedias provide concise overviews on a wide variety of topics. Subject encyclopedias contain in-depth entries focusing on one field of study. The best place to find an encyclopedia is in a library. However, a few encyclopedias can be found on the Web, usually accessible only to subscribers.

Use an Encyclopedia:

  • when looking for background information on a topic
  • when trying to find key ideas, important dates or concepts


  • Encyclopedia of Psychology (subject encyclopedia)
  • Encyclopedia Americana (general encyclopedia)
  • Britannica Online (general encyclopedia)

World Wide Web

The Web allows you to access most types of information on the Internet through a browser. One of the main features of the Web is the ability to quickly link to other related information. The Web contains information beyond plain text, including sounds, images, and video.

Use the Web:

  • to find current information
  • to link to information provided by the library over the Internet
  • to find information about companies
  • to find information from all levels of government - federal to local
  • to find both expert and popular opinions

Examples of Web Addresses:


Email is a method of online communication with one or more people using special software on an Internet-connected computer. It is not a private form of communication since messages can be easily copied and sent to others. It is difficult to convey emotion or intent in an email message, so you must clearly state what you mean to say. You should be aware that there are rules of etiquette or "netiquette" to follow when using email. For example, USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is frowned upon because it is considered to be "shouting" in an online environment. As a student at LIU you are automatically given an email account. For information consult the My LIU student information system available at: https://my.liu.edu/

Use Email:

  • to ask for an opinion by an expert in the field
  • to join a listserv to receive and post messages on a particular topic

Examples of Email Addresses:

  • Person@liu.edu
  • president@whitehouse.gov
  • smurf@aol.com

What Do You Need?

Now that you know the wide range of sources available to you, how do you select the best one for your research?

The best sources will depend on the type of information you are trying to find. The following chart illustrates how the information you need will affect your choice of the best sources for you to use.

If you need:
You might try:
Current information about an election held yesterday
Newspapers and the Web
Scholarly articles with research and analysis of election trends
Journals and books (and e-journals on the Web)
Popular articles about election coverage
Magazines (and perhaps e-zines on the Web)
Historical information or an overview of a topic
Reference resources

Considering all types of information is important when selecting sources for your research. You can develop more robust and convincing arguments by gathering information from a variety of sources. Consulting several sources from different authorities can be an excellent way to find support for your thesis, as well as provide different points of view on your topic.

It is important to think about what you really need to find and then use a source that best meets those needs.

If you need current information...
newspapers and the Web might be your first guess.

If you want general articles...
magazines, encyclopedias, and the Web can offer good opinions.

When you do research...
books, library catalogs, journals and periodical indexes are usually good choices.

The next thing to think about is how and where to start your research.

The Library vs. The Web

Sometimes the hardest part about research is just getting started. Two places to begin looking for information are in library sources and on the Web.

Subject encyclopedias often give you an overview, which can help you get a handle on your topic. Therefore they are often a good place to start your research.

When you think about libraries the first things that come to mind are probably printed materials such as books and magazines. Libraries also provide access to resources like full-text magazine articles and online databases.

Libraries collect quality information in a wide variety of formats. Many electronic resources are accessible through a Web browser. Academic libraries purchase these sources for their community of students, faculty, and staff to use. These resources are different than most of the information that is freely available to you over the Web because they have been reviewed and recommended by the library.

Alternately, no one individual or group dictates what information is acceptable for the Web or how it should be presented. This lack of authority allows many people to publish their opinions, ideas, and creative works. Some of this information may be interesting, but much of it may not be useful for academic research.

For your research, you will probably save yourself time and find more quality information if you begin with library resources and then move to the Web if you need more information or other points of view. Remember, when using remote access to get to the library's databases, you are accessing the library's collection via the Web, but are still using library resources which tend to be more reliable.

Starting with the Library

The main purpose of a university library is to collect a large quantity of scholarly material from different decades and on diverse topics to make your research easier. Those materials might be printed on microfilm, video, CDs, or even full-text databases offered on the Web.

Library resources go through a review process.
Librarians select books, magazines, journals, databases, and even Web sites. This selection process allows the library to collect sources considered reliable, authoritative, historically relevant, and valuable.

Library resources are free or discounted for your use.
Though the items libraries purchase are not cheap, they are able to purchase one copy, which can be shared by many people.

Library resources are organized.
Items in libraries are organized, so you can easily find all the sources on a topic. For example, when you search for a book in the library catalog, you will get a call number. The call number will direct you to a specific shelf in the library. The other books near the same call number should cover a similar topic.

Library resources are meant to be kept permanently.
One of the primary functions of a library is to be an organized storehouse of in-depth information published throughout time. As well as finding very current information, you can also find books that are no longer published and older issues of magazines. Occasionally you can access these items through digital library collections on the Web.

Library resources come with personal assistance.
Unlike the Web, which is primarily do-it-yourself, libraries have staff who are trained to assist you in sorting through all these information sources. They can help you learn to use new tools and can answer any questions you have.

Quality over Quantity

Libraries have large collections of information on a variety of topics which have been carefully selected and organized. The key idea when using the library is that you are getting QUALITY over QUANTITY. Print or electronic library resources are the best sources to use when starting your research. You can efficiently find quality information from a variety of credible resources in the library.

Starting with the Web

Although many people first go to the Web for information, it is not always the best place for what you need. It's pretty difficult to make definitive statements about something as diverse as the Web. But here we go...

Most information on the Web does not go through a review process.
Anyone can publish on the Web without passing the content through an editor. Pages might be written by an expert on the topic, a journalist, a disgruntled consumer, or a sixth grader.

Some information on the Web is not free.
Many Web pages are free to view (and actually many of the best ones are), but some commercial sites will charge a fee to access all or part of their information.

Information on the Web is not organized.
Some directory services, like Yahoo, collect links to sites and place them in subject lists. But there are too many Web pages for any single directory service or search engine to organize and index.

Most information on the Web is not comprehensive.
The millions of Web pages out there make up an eclectic hodgepodge of information and opinion. Rarely will you be able to use a search engine on the Web to collect information about your topic from different decades, different viewpoints, and different types of sources.

Most information on the Web is not permanent.
Some well-maintained sites are updated with very current information, but other sites may become quickly dated or disappear altogether without much notice.

Quantity over Quality

The Web can be a good research source for:

  • sampling public opinion of people on the Internet
  • gathering a wide range of ideas
  • locating information on topics not found in mainstream publications
  • learning more about companies and organizations
  • reading information from the government
  • finding quick facts
  • catching up with current news

The key idea when using the Web is that you get QUANTITY over QUALITY. The Web is a good tool for finding information, but it is usually not the best place to begin academic research.

The Library's Presence on the Web

Although we've been making some distinctions between the Web and the library, the two aren't distinctly different things. It's important to understand that there is a middle-ground -- the idea of the "library on the Web." That is to say, many libraries have Web sites which organize information and provide access to collections of quality resources. The library web page for LIU Post is: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/libhome.htm

One great thing about using the library on the Web is that the information has been evaluated and organized. Much of this information is from the government, companies, universities, and foreign countries. Sometimes the library has digitized material from its own collections or exhibits for people around the world to use. For example, African-Americans and the Old West: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/african/west/west.htm

Keep in mind that although there is an increasing amount of information in this "digital library" on the Internet, you will still not find electronic full-text versions of all the resources you would find in the physical library.

Another aspect of this library is how easy it is for you to access. Library Web sites often have information about library hours, policies and contact information if you need assistance. If you are a student at a university, you can use the library online 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any Internet-connected computer. In some cases you can even find the full text of articles from magazines and journals through the library's Web site. A complete list of databases for LIU Post, including full-text databases, is available at: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/database.htm

Some of the best resources available from the library over the Web are the periodical databases.

Let's Get Ready to Research!

Researching is like playing detective and following clues toward the resolution of a case. Research will help you make links and connections between information and ideas, as well as broaden your perspectives on the world. You want to end your research with enough quality information to make writing your paper easier.

Many times you will not find the information you need in the first place you look. Now that you know the wide variety of sources available, try another place to find the information. Usually looking at a topic from a different perspective will lead you to more information.

Remember that it takes time to locate good information. If you are struggling to start your research, get help. The librarians who work at the Reference or Information Desk in your library are experienced in selecting and evaluating reliable resources. Take advantage of their expertise, and ask them for help.

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This material has been adapted from TILT, a site developed by the University of Texas System. Additional content created by : Mary Kate Boyd-Byrnes, Laura Manzari, Linda McCormack, Dona McDermott, and Andrea Rylander. Go to Next Section >

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