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This is the "Starting Your Research" page of the "John Spellman Library" guide.
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Last Updated: Nov 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Starting Your Research Print Page

Starting Your Research

Getting Started on Research

The John Spellman Library at Grays Harbor College has many resources to help students with their class assignments. This guide should help you get started on finding some of what's available. Whenever you need help or get stuck, don't hesitate to ask at the Reference Desk! (email)

Reference Books:

Items in the reference section are designed to help with overviews of topics, facts, statistics, etc. They are in a specific section of the library, and all the call numbers start with an "R" to designate reference. These materials do not check out of the library, but you can make photocopies of the necessary pages. Some examples would be Encyclopedia Americana, The World Almanac, or Encyclopedia of Psychology.

Library Catalog:

The Library Catalog is a listing of all of the materials the John Spellman Library owns. )books, videos, periodicals, DVD, CD's, etc.) You can search by the title or author, if known, or by a subject. To access the catalog, go to the library's website and choose Library Catalog from the bottom Quick Links The call number of the item you want will listed in the catalog so you can find it on the shelves. In addition, you can get the catalog and other resources from the Search & Find tab.

Browse the Shelves:

All materials are organized on the shelf by call number. This is the "address" of the item. Here at GHC we use the Dewey Decimal System. Things are grouped roughly by subject, so you can often find related sources in the same area. For specific searching, use the Library Catalog .


Databases are indexes to periodical articles. While the Library Catalog will tell you if we subscribe to a magazine, a Index will tell you the topics of different articles. This is the fastest, easiest way to access periodicals (magazines, newspapers, journals). Again, start at the library's website and use the Quick Search box in the center of the page. Some of the databases have a specialized focus and might not be good for all topics. If you are not sure which database to choose, take a look at the descriptions under the Search & Find tab.

When searching the databases, you will get two kinds of results. Sometimes you will get the entire article you want, full-text online. But sometimes you might only get an abstract of the article. An abstract is a summary of what the article is about. Even if the article is not full-text, don"t despair. There are many other options for getting articles, either from another online database or a print copy. We can help!

In addition to the online periodicals, the library subscribes to over 100 periodicals in print. These are regular subscriptions that come to us in the mail and we make them available to you for checkout or to make copies.

Audio-Visual Materials:

The library purchases Audio-Visual materials (video, dvd's, cd's, etc.) to support the cirriculum. We also provide viewing facilities in the library. These items are listed in the Library Catalog and are designated by the location "Audio-Video" and will have Media Collection in the call number. These items are available for check-out.

World Wide Web Sites

The library provides access to the Internet. We have a list of search engines for starting your research under the World Wide Web heading above. In addition, we have assembled some recommended sites by subject area.

Don't forget-You can always ask for help!


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