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Getting Started with Library Resources

Your guide to getting started with library resources and research help

Welcome to Centennial College Libraries, we're glad you're here! With millions of books, journals, films, and more, it can be overwhelming to start using the college library. This guide gives you tips, strategies, and direct links to specific types of library content. Whether you're looking for an academic article to start your research assignment, or looking to relax with a movie or book from our leisure reading collection, this guide will show you how to get there. Use the navigation on the left side to get started!

What's in the library?

Photo of books on shelves at Progress campus library.Centennial libraries hold hundreds of thousands of books and eBooks. From an information perspective, print and eBooks are similar. The main difference between them is access. Print books are physical items, whereas eBooks are digital files, that can be accessed from a variety of devices.

Why use books/eBooks? Books provide overviews, background, history and introductions as well as in-depth examinations of topics. They are useful when you are looking for in-depth information on a topic, or background overview of a subject area. We also have an extensive collection of leisure reading so stop by to borrow a book to snuggle up with!

Title page of the Canadian Journal of Education, volume 37, number 1.In your coursework, you may be asked to use "scholarly" or "academic" sources. This means the source is written by an expert in their field with relevant academic, educational, and/or lived experience on the subject. While books may be scholarly (usually published by a university press), your professor is likely asking you to use an article from a scholarly journal.

At Centennial Libraries, we have access to hundreds of academic journals. To locate articles, use the main search page and then filter your results using the filters on the left. Click Resource Type then select Articles. If you want to be sure you are only getting results that are scholarly, you can also select Peer-reviewed Journals from the Availability drop-down. Peer review is a process where an author's article is reviewed by a panel of experts before it is able to be published. This is why peer-reviewed articles or journals are often considered the best in their field.

Trade Magazines

Trade magazines contain articles aimed at people working in a particular field. Often, articles published in trade journals are written by practitioners in the field. The content in trade journals focuses on working in the profession, trends, news related to that field, or trade, rather than academic research. Consider trade journals to be more practical than the more theoretical and philosophical academic journals.

Examples of trade journals include:


Popular Magazines

Popular magazine articles typically focus on information from pop culture. Articles are usually short, and with images embedded throughout.

Examples of popular magazines include:

In comparison, scholarly articles are long, black and white, and have statistical tables and graphs included as part of the research. Academic papers also have a long list of references available at the end of the paper.

While popular magazine articles are informative, and often mention academic research, they may not be the best choice to include as part of academic research. To help you decide, read more about popular vs. scholarly sources here.

YouTube Video -- Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

Photo of a stack of newspapers. The Business section is visible.Through our subscriptions, Centennial College Libraries has access to hundreds of local, national, and international newspapers. Using news articles can be a great way to supplement your research with up-to-date events and information.

Since other resource types like books and academic articles can take years to move from the writing to publication stage, using current news and events can help you make connections between theory learned in class and current issues.

Photo by AbsolutVision via Unsplash

Grey literature refers to materials published non-commercially. These materials can be made available by the government, academia, non-for-profit, business and trade organizations, in print and digital formats. Examples of grey literature include:

  • Government information
  • Conference proceedings
  • Reports (e.g. statistical, technical, committee reports)
  • White papers
  • Newsletters
  • Fact sheets

Why use grey literature? It is sometimes more current than published research, and it is a great way to supplement your research, providing your project with a full picture viewpoint. You can find grey literature online, by searching Google (or another search engine), and/or Google Scholar.

YouTube Video: What is Grey Literature?

Did you know you can borrow VR headsets, digital SLR cameras, podcasting equipment, and microcontrollers from the library? They are all part of our Emerging Technology Collection. The collection encourages students, faculty, and staff to think outside the box and use their creativity to its fullest potential. Whether your recording a podcast, directing a short film, or just want to learn more about circuitry, the Emerging Technology Collection has a lot to offer.

To learn more, check out our Emerging Technology Guide or see a full list of our emerging technology here.

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