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EN178 Introduction to Creative Writing (Braunstein): Library Guide

Explore Databases

To identify databases focused on other subject areas, check our Research Guides page.

Databases are searchable collections of articles and other materials.

Scholarly, peer-reviewed journals are periodicals written by and for scholars. They are particularly important for formal, college-level research papers.

Magazines are periodicals aimed for public readership. Magazines with thoughtful, critical articles on culture, literature, places, people and the arts include the following titles:

Newspapers are designed to offer the most current information available. Older newspapers can be used to understand the attitudes and beliefs of a particular time.

For databases specializing in newspapers, check the Colby Libraries Newspaper Guide.


Database filters can make your search results more manageable and easier to compare. Limit by format, dates, publication or subject area.

database filter for dates

database filters for newspapers and magazines

Find Articles in a Known Magazine or Newspaper

Want to see if Colby has a subscription to a particular magazine or journal?  On the Colby Libraries home page click on the "Journals and Articles" tab.  

Once the orange bar has moved down, enter the publication's name in the search box.

Note that Colby also has arrangements with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal that enable Colby students to have their own FREE digital subscriptions to those publications. Sign up HERE.

MLA Citation Help

Reference Sources

  • Provide helpful overviews
  • Help you identify search terms
  • Allow topic exploration

Book by Lalena Jaramillo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Woman exploring forest Exploratory Research is like a forest with many paths to choose from. Photo David Shea, cropped (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Use a Research Log to map your paths. You are welcome to copy this blank template. Go to File, "Make a Copy."

Explore Primary Sources

For an extensive list of primary sources, see the Colby Libraries Primary Sources Guide

Primary Source search terms to use on the web with your topic:

  • "digital collections"
  • "oral histories"
  • diaries
  • manuscripts

Primary Source Databases:

Searching Tips in Databases & the Library Catalog


  • Experiment with different search combinations, using synonyms and related terms.
  • Use an asterisk to stand in for multiple word endings: narrat* = narrate, narrates, narration, narrator 
  • Use quotation marks to "glue together" a phrase: "stream of consciousness"
  • Use AND between terms to narrow results to items containing both terms: sex* AND identity
  • Using OR between items (within parenthesis) widens results: (freedom OR liberty)
  • Combine terms to build search strings.


Find an item of interest using a keyword search? Look at its item record to identify Subject Terms. These links group material  together by topic which can yield more precise results. Sample subject headings:

Note that searching a broad subject in CBBcat can lead to a further list of sub-divisions. These can be helpful in focusing your research.


Check the notes, references and bibliographies of every relevant article or book. You may discover more books and articles of interest.

Look for BOOK TITLES in CBBcat or MaineCat

Put ARTICLE TITLES in OneSearch or Google Scholar to get access to full-text. (Try just first part of title in quotes along with author's last name.)

Photo: The Look, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


  • OneSearch should only be used for very precise searches, such as:
  • Finding an known article by searching its title
  • Finding book reviews for a specific book
  • Finding articles or book chapters on lesser-known people or narrow topics
  • Use limiters!  E.g. journal articles, scholarly material, book chapters, book reviews
  • It's usually NOT good for searching broad topics. Instead use CBBcat or recommended databases.

Explore our Book Catalog

SEARCH our library catalog.

To focus on books, change the 2nd drop-down to Books & E-books.

Books in Miller, Olin or Bixler Library? Ask for directions at a library Service Desk.

Books at the Colby Storage Facility, Bates or Bowdoin? To order click
You will be notified by email when your request is available to pickup at the Miller Service Desk.

Not finding what you want in CBBcat?

Look on the CBBcat search result page for a link to MaineCat, which expands your search to other Maine libraries.

Books photo by Julochka (2014). Creative Commons license 2.0.

Tips for Using Google

Don't use Google to find scholarly material - Use library databases or the library catalog.

Use Google with crafted searches to find digital primary sources at archives, museums and academic institutions; alternative voices; zines and community organizations.

Search precisely - Beware of common words or words that have multiple meanings. Specify as much as possible, but also explore alternative phrasing. Use the names of known, trusted people to get recommendations of reliable online sites and publications.  Add terms that focus on the type of material desired. Examples: "digital collections", zine, "literary journal", "literary magazine", "oral histories"

Use "Advanced Search" - On your Google search results page, click on Settings. Use supplied fields to carefully map choices. The "Site or Domain" field can be useful in limiting your results to government information (.gov) or items created at educational institutions (.edu). 

Evaluate Extremely Carefully! - Do separate searches of source creators, authors and publications. What are their values and motivations of site creators? Are they getting their information from reliable sources and interpreting evidence fairly and  intelligently? Who is the intended audience?

Know the Limitations of Web Searching - Most scholarly articles are either not found by search engines or are behind paywalls. Information is sorted and ranked according to commercial/consumer/popular considerations. Information is not vetted for accuracy or reliability.

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