See also: Search Strategies and Types of Sources
The Library Catalog (Primo) is the tool used to directly search for items in the Library, as well as articles and other electronic resources.
To access materials through the catalog, you will need to log in to your library account.
The catalog can be a good place to search when you know exactly what you want. This is called known-item searching. The video below provides an example.
The catalog is also good for browsing to get a sense of what materials are out there, such as in the video below.
The Library Catalog does not include all the content from the databases to which SU subscribes. Databases include searchable indexes for for journals, newspapers, magazines and other collections, often grouped by discipline.
You can find links to all of our databases, as well as subject-specific research guides from our Articles and Databases guide.
Academic Search Complete, Research Library, and JSTOR are great databases to get started with, as they include information from a wide variety of subject areas. See below for videos showing how to use each of these databases.
Newspapers are an important source of information on current and historical events.
Our News and Newspapers guide provides access to regional. national. international and historical newspaper collections. The following videos provide instructions for using newspaper databases:
Video created by University of Alabama Libraries
While it's not a database, you can use the search engine's Google Scholar search tool to locate peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and other scholarly sources.
You can connect Google Scholar to our library catalog to help locate the full text of articles. See instructions in the video below:
If you find even one good source on a topic, you can use it to find additional sources and better understand the scholarly conversation surrounding your topic. The video below describes a process for "citation chaining", or how to find related literature by using cited references within a source.
Outside of the Library, websites provide current and specialized information, often from organizations and government agencies as well as individuals. As with any information you find, evaluate web sources carefully!
Our research guides will often link to credible content on the web in addition to library subscriptions related to specific subjects.
What if I need a source but the Library doesn't have it?
When you're trying to access a source and you hit a paywall, STOP. You can request it through interlibrary loan (ILL)!
Interlibrary Loan is a service through which you can request research materials, such as books, journal articles, book chapters, videos, and other materials that are not available at our library.
When you are searching in Library databases, look for a link that says "search for full text" - from there you will be connected to the Library catalog and prompted to "Request from Another Library." After you have placed your request, you will be notified by email when your requested item is available. The video below provides an overview.