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WP115 Landscape and Place (Megan): Library Guide

Find Articles in Databases

Look for an option to limit your search to articles in peer-reviewed or scholarly journals. These are important components of college-level research.

Databases can also include magazine & newspaper articles, which can provide news; analysis; and illuminate the attitudes, biases, and points of view of a certain place and time.

For more databases specializing in newspapers, check our Newspaper Guide.


To identify databases focusing on specific subject areas, check our Choosing a Database Guide.

MLA Citation Help

Find Books in Our Library Catalog

CBBcat, the library catalog, logo image

Search for physical and digital books, films and other media in our library catalog.

A book of literary criticism can be by a single author or can be an edited anthology with chapters ("book articles") on different aspects of the book's general theme.

To identify SCHOLARLY BOOKS, investigate/examine the:

  • author (university affiliation, research specialty)
  • publisher (academic or university press)
  • writing style & intended audience
  • arguments, analysis, study methodology
  • notes, references, bibliography

PRINT: Look at the location and call number. Most Colby owned books related to literature can be found on the two bottom floors of the Miller Library book stacks. Order books from Bates, Bowdoin and the Colby Annex by clicking CBB Request in an item record.

DIGITAL: look for a small circular red E in the icons to the left of your results . .

Or use the drop-downs on the CBBcat search page, for a more precise search.


  Photo: Power Transmission by JPitha (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Searching Tips in Database & Catalogs


  • Experiment with different search combinations, using synonyms and related terms.
  • Use an asterisk to stand in for multiple word endings: environ* = environment, environments, environmental
  • Use quotation marks to "glue together" a phrase: "social justice"
  • Use AND between terms to narrow results to items containing both terms: "public spaces" AND privatization
  • Using OR between items (within parenthesis) widens results: (nature OR wilderness)
  • 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.

List of Colby's databases - use the Subject menu to find the best databases for your search


Check the notes, references and bibliographies of every relevant article or book. These list the sources the author interacted with to create their work.

Search the title of an author's work in Google Scholar and click on Cited by under its listing. This provides a list of sources that cited an author's work, continuing conversations in multiple new directions.

Following citation trails can not only facilitate the discovery of other works that enrich your research, but it can illuminate the larger network of conversations and connections that help to expand knowledge.

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

Tips for Using Google

Don't use regular Google to find scholarly material - Use library databases or the library catalog. However, Google, used carefully, can help find alternative voices, community organizations and digital collections. Check with your professor if unsure about assignment requirements.

Search precisely - Beware of common words or words that have multiple meanings. Specify as much as possible, but also explore alternative phrasing. Do pre-research to find names of relevant and reliable online publications and blogs.

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

Use "Tools" - On your Google search results page, click on Tools > All Results > Verbatim. This can help focus your results. Limiting by date can get you items with greater currency.

Evaluate Extremely Carefully! - Investigate every source by doing separate searches of source creators, authors and publications. Every source you interact with is a conversation. With whom are you talking? What are their values and motivations? 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.


Find Articles in a Known Magazine or Newspaper

Want to see if Colby has access 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.

Reference Sources

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

Book by Lalena Jaramillo, 2011, 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.

Need to use these resources off campus?

For the most reliable access, install VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your computer or device.

Instructions are on the Colby VPN webpage:


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