The fall semester is well underway at Connecticut College and the reference desk in Shain Library is abuzz with questions and consultations about finding, evaluating, and citing scholarly sources on a wide variety of topics.
What follows is an overview of a recent transaction in which an undergraduate student wanted to find works by two renowned anthropologists. The takeaway is that sometimes when it seems like the library doesn’t have a book you’re looking for, be persistent (e.g. ask us); it could be just a few searches away.
An anthropology student contacted the library by using the Schedule a Research Consultation link on the library website. One can schedule a research consultation using the library mobile app as well, so it’s super easy to schedule an appointment with a librarian. In her message, the researcher told us about her project and the kinds of sources she was hoping to find:
I would like help finding works by Franz Boas such as his 1907 essay “Anthropology”, or his 1911 book “The Mind of Primitive Man”, or his 1920 essay, “The Methods of Ethnology”. And such works by Lewis Henry Morgan as “Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family” or “Ancient Society” (1877)
We scheduled an appointment and met in person to work on this together. Some of the sources can be found using the library catalog online, but some of them are trickier and require a more advanced search technique.
Here’s a look at how we found them:
Franz Boas’ work called “Anthropology”:
- Do an Advanced Search in the library catalog
- Search for franz boas in the first search box (case doesn’t matter), and set the drop-down option to search Author Name
- In the second search box, search for anthropology, and set the drop-down to search Title
- This search produced 5 results, including one for the book Anthropology and Modern Life, which is what it turned out we wanted
Because we were not sure at first if “anthropology” is the title of a whole book or perhaps just an article or chapter, we started with an advanced search to see how the catalog would handle this information. The advanced search technique helped in this case, because we found what we wanted and quickly.
The next item of interest, The Methods of Ethnology, sounds more like a book title, so we thought we would find it with a basic title search:
- Do a Basic Search in the library catalog
- Search for the title (without the initial article, because library catalogs and databases do not search initial articles such as “a” and “the”)
- Limit the search to within the Title field
- Unfortunately there are no results for this title, so it is either something we do not have in our library, something that’s contained in another item or classified under another title, or maybe it’s not a book, but a journal article or conference presentation instead
Assuming the work in question is at least part of a book, we can redo the search in WorldCat, the catalog of library catalogs, where we can hope to find out for sure if it is in a book somewhere:
- Under the Catalog search box on the library website, click on WorldCat
- Do a keyword search like this: “Methods of Ethnology” Boaz
- This search contains a unique phrase (“in quotes”) and a unique name (Boaz); all as keywords
- We still get a lot of results, but notice the first few. They happen to be titles available at Connecticut College, because the name Connecticut College appears highlighted in green
- Click on those records to find out more about them
- When viewing the full record in WorldCat, one can see these various titles contain the chapter we’re after – The Methods of Ethnology / Franz Boas
- Pick any of the titles that appear to contain the essay of interest, and return to the Connecticut College Library Catalog to find out where the book is located in our library
With the search techniques listed above, we found everything we needed in about 15 minutes. It was all available only a few steps away.
— Andrew Lopez