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Database Searching

Learn how to select a library database for your research topic and how to use the databases to find sources on your topic.

What's Search Our Library?

Search Our Library is located on the Library's homepage and is a great place to start your research. Search Our Library lets you search for books, articles and more all in one place! Learn how to effectively use Search Our Library to find sources for your assignments below. 


Search Our Library search bar on the Sojourner Truth Library homepage.

Step 1

Use the search bar on the STL's homepage to add your keywords. What are keywords? These are important words from your research question or topic. Check out the "Search Strategies" page to learn more about developing keywords. 

  • Our keywords are recidivism and higher education.

If you would like to add more keywords then use the "Advanced Search."


"Search Our Library" search bar with the keywords "recidivism AND higher education."

Step 2

Refining results

  • We've got over 23,000 search results! Our results are a bit too broad. Let's use the "Refine Results" on the left hand side to change the publication date so we can see sources published within the past 10 years. Because Search Our Library includes books and media, we will also need to limit to scholarly (peer reviewed) journals on the left hand side under the "availability" section and limit to articles in the "source type" section. We can also add a subject term. Hopefully now we can find a scholarly peer reviewed article published within the past 10 years per our assignment.


"Search Our Library" search page showing 23,476 results. A black arrow points to the refiners on the left hand side.



Here is what the "Refine your results" looks like when applying refiners to your search. 

Close up of Refine options showing "Availability", "Resource Type", "Publication Date", and "Subject." The "Apply Filters" button at the bottom has a black box around it.

Step 3

Look at your results and play around!

  • Now that we've walked through the basics of searching in "Search Our Library", try different keyword combinations, add or remove limiters and try searching in other databases!


"Search Our Library" results page with refiners applied. Results now show 1,820.

Step 4

Once you find a potential article, click on the title to be taken to the article's description page. At the top of the page, there will be the title, journal information, author(s), and where we have access to the article. The article location will show both physical and online access options. Click the location to be brought to access links.

Description page for an article. There is a black box around physical and online access options.


Online database options for the article showing three database options.

Using Search Our Library for known items

You can use Search Our Library to search for known articles by title. If we have electronic access to the article in our databases a link is provided. If we do not have electronic access a link to Interlibrary Loan is provided. 

  1. Using the "Search Our Library" on the library homepage, search for access to an article by title. "Search Our Library" bar on the library homepage with an arrow pointing to search bar.
  2. If we have access to the article it will be listed in the results page. If we do not check the box on the left to "Add results that require additional delivery time via ILL." "Search Our Library" results page showing no results with a box around the check box for Interlibrary Loan results on the left.
  3. Now that the box for including articles delivered through ILL is checked, look at the results page. Click on the title of the article to be brought to an article description page. "Search Our Library" results page now shows two results for Interlibrary Loan articles. Arrow points to one of the articles.
  4. On the article description page, sign into your library account. 
  5. Scroll down to the "Get It" section and select the "Interlibrary Loan" option. Article description page with arrowing pointing to the "Get It" section with Interlibrary Loan links.
  6. Sign into your Interlibrary Loan account using your NP username and password. 
  7. Check to make sure the auto filled article information is correct then hit "Submit Request" at the bottom of the request page. Interlibrary Loan article request page auto filled with a box around "Submit Request" at bottom.
  8. You will receive an email when a PDF of the article is available for you to download.