How to use the library for research


Anton Johnson

The second half of the semester is here, and it’s time for many students to get started on their final papers. The UNO Criss Library can help you get started. Photo courtesy of UNO Communications.

We’ve all been there: the scramble to figure out what to do for your research paper. Maybe you procrastinated the research for just a bit too long, or maybe you aren’t even sure what your topic will be yet. Either way, you’re lost and you don’t know where to go.

UNO’s Criss Library may be your best bet, said Katie Bishop, director of research and instruction services. The library offers several resources and services for students to use.

I’ve always struggled with procrastination and indecision. The most daunting step of a research project is getting started. The quickest and easiest way to kickstart your research is reach out for help.

Where to start?


Check out the library’s resources

“The library has hundreds of databases, and hundreds of resources,” Bishop said. “Our research guides will tell you what the best databases are for your subject.’”

The library has online research guides to get you started. There are several guides with tips and resources for various subjects. The library’s databases give students access to thousands of articles, books and other media, many of which are available online.

Resources and services for UNO faculty are also available at the library, like course reserves and open educational resources. Professors can request a librarian to host a research instruction session with their classes.

Those resources are helpful on their own, but the library has many options for communicating with somebody for further assistance. For example, Bishop said that databases use “complicated algorithms” that most people don’t know how to use effectively.


Ask someone for help

“If you’re struggling, if you’ve never tackled a research project before, make an appointment with a librarian,” Bishop said. “Don’t struggle for hours.”

For a quick, immediate answer, Criss Library’s website has a chat function. Simply type in your question during library hours, and a full-time staff member or student worker will try their best to answer as soon as possible.

For something more in-depth, the Ask-A-Librarian service will let you send a question to be answered by one of the library’s research librarians. You can fill out a form, and you can get an answer sent to your email.

For help with the research process as a whole, you can schedule an appointment with a subject librarian. As the name implies, these librarians specialize in specific subjects like physics or psychology. They can help a student find sources, or walk them through how to use articles in their work.

Because of the pandemic, appointments with subject librarians are held through Zoom. Bishop said that after the campus starts to open back up, both in-person and online appointments will be available.

Good teachers often say “there are no stupid questions.” Just receiving a little bit of verbal instruction can keep you from feeling totally lost. Bishop said that nobody should feel guilty for reaching out for help; that’s what these people are here for.


Start researching!

After going through the library’s online resources, or speaking with a librarian, you should be ready to get the ball rolling on your project. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and seek help if you get stuck along the way.

“Please take advantage of what the library has to offer,” Bishop said. “It’s always worth a try to use those tools.”