Basics of Research in the
Gavilan College Library


Welcome to the Gavilan College Library.

Let's talk about using library resources to work on your research project! Gavilan College Library offers not only print books, but over 10,000 electronic books and many subscription databases to help you in your research.

All you need to use these resources is your library card!


Let's begin with the Library Homepage. On the right you can find quick links to the resources in the library that we'll be using in this tutorial:


Gavilan Book Catalog
ProQuest Periodical Database
CQ Researcher
Opposing Viewpoints (Librarians' Index)

Most of these databases can be accessed from the circle of resources on the front page of the Gavilan Library website. The first 3 resources,

  • Gavilan Catalog
  • ProQuest
  • CQ Researcher

are linked to icons. The last 2,

  • Opposing Viewpoints
  • Librarians' Index

are available from the Full List of Online Databases link under the circle.

Step 1: An overview with books. Books are a great source for an in-depth view of your topic. The book length gives enough space to fully develop different aspects of the subject. You may not have time to read an entire book, but by looking at the table of contents or the index in the back of the book, you might be able to zero right into the pages that cover your particular aspect.

The Gavilan College Library will help you find hard copy (books in the library) or electronic copy (full text and available anywhere you can get to the internet). Try searching for your topic as a subject heading.

Once you locate a book that you want you can order it from the main campus library. The books will be delivered to the Morgan Hill or Hollister site, whichever you designate. You can return books to this site also.

Sometimes, through the new full-text service in Google Books, you can get a peek at the actual pages of the book.

If it's an ebook, you can view the entire book online, through Gavilan's ebook supplier, NetLibrary.

Step 2: Specialized databases at the Gavilan Library. Books are nice, but periodical articles, published in newspapers, professional journals and popular magazines, will give you much more current information. This means the current debates, theories, statistics, opinions of your topic. Use ProQuest to find these articles.

A search for immigration and employer* will get results like this:

These top listings are all from newspapers. They are listed chronologically, with the lastest most current article on the top of the list. You can change your criteria to show only magazines, or only scholarly journals.

CQ Researcher will find articles that deal with contemporary controversial issues, such as abortion, immigration reform, global warming, obesity, all the topics being discussed in the newspapers and television news stations. These are published by Congressional Quarterly, a publishing company that takes pride in showing both sides of an issue, a solid background of the events leading up to the current situation, an analysis of the current situation, and pro /con-argument by experts in the field. A search on immigration brings up 153 different issues:

Another database that specifically addresses current controversial topics is Opposing Viewpoints, drawing on the series published by Greenhaven Press and other Thomson Gale imprints. This database will give you a limited list of key "viewpoint" articles, chosen by the Opposing Viewpoints editors,

or a more comprehensive list of magazine & newspaper articles, depending on which tab you choose:


Step 3: Now, let's try some basic internet sources. In order to be a good consumer of internet information, you must evaluate each website and the information on it. An evaluation site from the New Mexico State University, Library, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, lists 5 criteria you'll have to ask yourself every time you consider using material from a webpage: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, and coverage. This means examining every website for an author, the author's qualifications, the sponsor of the website, any inherent bias from that sponsor, a date when the page was posted or last updated, and a measure of what viewpoints the webpage is covering.

One answer to this problem of finding reliable information on the net is to use a search engine that provides pre-evaluated websites. One of those is the Librarian's Internet Index. This is a site put together by librarians and educators and includes only sites that have been reviewed.

This doesn't mean you don't do your own evaluating. However, you will be starting with a site that a librarian or professor has already previewed and determined to meet certain standards and provide a substantial amount of reliable information.

You can search by directory or by keyword. You may find resources like this:

screenshot for LII listing, link to

Notice the full description the librarians give you, the name of the sponsor (National Public Radio in this case), and the date last updated at the bottom of each listing. This kind of evaluation will make your job of choosing sites to look at much less frustrating.


So, have fun and contact us at the Gavilan College Library Reference Desk if you have any questions. We are available during library hours at the reference desk, by telephone at 408-848-4806 or by email at


Please fill out the evaluation of this tutorial to let us know how we can help you with your research projects.



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Last updated: 07/24/2006

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