First Year Seminar: Education, Race and Democracy

Personal Librarian: Lois Coleman | 212-854-9095 | Office: 306C Lehman Hall

Make an appointment for a research consultation with me

Lois Coleman

Finding Scholarly Articles in Databases

   America, History and Life

  • Large scholarly database.
  • Enables searching by time period.
  • Use * for truncation, quotes for a phrase.


  • Magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals and dissertations.
  • Includes the full text of the New York Times from 1851 to the present.
  • Use * for truncation, quotes for a phrase.
  • Start with searching in "Anywhere except full text" - the second choice in the menu.


  • Full-text articles from many scholarly journals.
  • Coverage is from the first issue of each journal (including some started in the nineteenth century) up to 3 to 5 years ago.

   Google Scholar

  • Only finds scholarly materials - articles, books and citations.
  • Searches full text, and will often find too many irrelevant articles.
  • Uncheck “include patents” and “include citations.”

   More databases are listed on the Barnard Library American Studies Research Guide.

Researching Congress and Legislation

   ProQuest Congressional Publications

  • Includes bills, laws, legislative histories, committee prints, House and Senate documents and reports, the Congressional Record, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, the Congressional Research Service reports, etc.
  • You can search by Public Law number, Bill number, keyword, etc.

   Columbia Libraries Research Guide: U.S. Government Documents: Legislative Process

Finding Books in CLIO

  • Use the Catalog search to find books, journals (but not articles in journals), links to online journals, and other materials in the Barnard and Columbia libraries, including the Health Sciences Library.
  • For a known item, search by Title, Author, standardized Library of Congress Subject Heading, ISBN, etc.
  • For an All Fields keyword search, "use quotes" for a phrase, and * for truncation (to find variant endings of a word), e.g. feminis* finds feminism, feminist, feminists, etc.
  • For a complex search, use Boolean Keyword searching:
    • AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered;
    • OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE. Use parentheses to group terms,
      e.g. "native american" AND (school* OR educat*).

Finding Images

   Google Image Search

  • Under copyright law, "fair use" covers using images in a presentation for a class, but if you want to publish images on a website or elsewhere, you need to find images that are free of copyright restrictions.  In Google Advanced Search, you can select usage rights: "free to use or share."

   Wikimedia Commons

  • A huge collection of images in the public domain or covered by Creative Commons license.  Images are freely usable and anyone can contribute them.

   American Memory

  • A rich collection of images and full-text documents relating to U.S. history and culture from the Library of Congress.


  • Provides more than one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences, and has a suite of tools for research.

   NYPL Digital Gallery

  • Thousands of images digitized from the New York Public Library's vast collections.
  • Includes historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs, etc.

Searching the Web

   Criteria for finding reliable sources:

  • Authority – look for the author’s name, title and affiliation if available.  Preferable URLs are .edu, .org and .gov rather than .com
  • Accuracy – is it well-written and clear, and does it seem to refer to other reliable sources?
  • Objectivity – is it bias-free, is there advertising?
  • Currency – is it out of date?
  • Coverage – does it include useful links to other sites, is it superficial or in-depth?


  • Not scholarly.
  • Can be useful for finding more search terms, and for looking at the references.

Feedback, please!

  • Please give us feedback on your library instruction session by filling in this form.  Thanks.