Use Reserve books and books from the stacks after getting an overview by looking at a variety of encyclopedias and other reference sources. These books are very detailed, and if you start with a 400+ page book on Marco Polo, you will probably be very overwhelmed and confused! Remember: reference first.
Besides the main content of a book, the parts of a book itself can provide information useful for research. The main parts of a book include:
Table of Contents: An outline or breakdown of the different chapters of a book.
Bibliography: The list of works used in the research of the book; useful for finding more informaiton on a topic.
Index: The list of key words, often including people and place names, used in the book and the page numbers for where those words appear; typically the last section of a book. Useful for knowing whether a specific person or term is referenced within the book.
Other possible sections include:
Appendix: The part or parts of a book that provide additional information to the main text; usually found near the back of the book.
Glossary: The section that defines key terms used in the book; usually found near the back of the book.
Reference books don't provide all the answers. Eventually you are going to need to move on to other sources to get more details.That's where the books on reserve come in. The OWHL librarians and your teachers have already pre-selected a large selection of books that we feel are going to be the most useful to you. We know that a lot of you are going to want the same books, which is why you can only use them for 2 hours at a time.
If you want to find books that you can take back to your dorm, use the OWH Library catalog to find materials in the stacks. Anything that you get from the stacks can be checked out for 3 weeks.
You can also find some journal articles and secondary sources on websites.
However, not all websites are trustworthy and worthy of citation in your academic work. Be sure to consider who is responsible for a website, when and where it was created and updated, and for what purpose. Always ask your teacher or a librarian to vet a website before citing it in your paper.
Below are some websites with secondary source-type information that you can use in your research: