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Guides & Help

Here is a list of helpful guides, handouts and other Web-based material related to library services.

What is a Database?

Google is a search engine.

Libraries subscribe to Databases.

Although you use both to search, they are very different things.

Library databases consist of a limited collection of records for newspaper, journal, and magazine articles. Within these databases we have access to some full-text versions of articles and for others we can only see the record/citation.

There are databases that specialize in particular subjects where all the records relate to one subject. Other databases are more general.

EBSCOhost, ProQuest and Gale are the biggest companies that provide libraries with databases. 

The video above further explains how someone's idea turns into an article that ends up searchable in a database.

What are Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources?

primary source is an original object or document from a specific time or event under study. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, interviews, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, survey data, observations, diaries, paintings, works of literature, ancient pieces of pottery unearthed in Iraq, and much more . In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies — research where an experiment was done or a direct observation was made.

secondary source is anything that’s written about a primary source, such as  an essay about a novel, a  newspaper article about AIDS research, a history textbook, a movie review, or subsequent thoughts on The Gettysburg Address.

Tertiary sources use primary and secondary courses to construct a narrative and/or theory. 

For more information, go to the full Guide here.

Library Resources

Course Reserves:
Looking for your class textbook?  Search our Course Reserves if we have it on the Reserve shelf and check it out at the circulation desk.

Finding Books:
HWC online catalog and full-text databases

Search for books, articles and other materials from the library subscription databases

Finding eBooks:
eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost) 
Titles from university presses around the world covering a broad range of topics, including technology, science, literature, and humanities.

You might be tempted to start your research with Google, but your Professor is most likely asking for you to find "Scholarly/Academic Sources".  This means that if you go straight to a library database, you'll save time wasted scrolling through Google results by giving you "Scholarly/Academic" results right away.  Click below to get started with databases:

Articles & Online Resources:
Subject list of Library Databases
Research electronic (Web-based) resources (arranged by subject area) that provide full-text journal, magazine, newspaper and other periodical articles

Library Database Descriptions 

Searching for Academic/Scholarly Articles in Academic Search Complete

More Information

Contact Us: 

Harold Washington College Library
Circulation Desk: (312) 553-5760

Reference Desk: (312) 553-5784
Fax: (312) 553-5783
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