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WAMS Research Guide: Print Sources

Tutorials and links to help you navigate the research process successfully.

Useful Resources

Table of Contents

The Table of Contents is usually found at the beginning of a nonfiction book, magazine or journal.  Occasionally, an encyclopedia or newspaper may have one as well.

The Table of Contents is a roadmap for the book, magazine or journal.  It will identify for you the main chapters or sections and the starting page number.  It is an extremely useful tool in locating the specific information you are seeking.


The Index is usually found at the end of a nonfiction book, reference book, magazine or journal.  

The Index is an alphabetical listing of all the more specific topics and pieces of information discussed in the nonfiction book, reference book, magazine or journal. It identifies for you the specific page number(s) where you will find information on that specific topic.  It is also a useful tool in locating the specific information you are seeking.

Destiny Online Catalog

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What is a Print source?

There are several different types of print sources - nonfiction books, magazines, encyclopedias, newspapers, journals - each with their own specific format and type of information.

Nonfiction Books - provide in depth information on a topic

Encyclopedias - provide short, general summary articles on a topic

Newspapers - provide short, event driven information on a topic

Magazines - provide a more detailed article on a topic

Journals - provide detailed articles on a topic with a target audience of professionals in the topic field

Finding a Book or Other Informational Source

Keywords: First thing you must do is construct the keyword(s) that you will use to search the online library catalog (Destiny) to see what informational material is available on your topic.  View the video Keyword Strategies to review how to choose good keywords. Keep your set of keywords to 1-3 words when searching the online catalog as our school collection is not large, and you may miss out on good sources if you have too narrow a search.  Remember that you may not find an entire book on your topic, but can usually find a book that has one or more sections related to your topic.

Sample keyword searches for our Australia topic are:

1. Australia

2. Australia wildlife

3. Kangaroos koalas

Search: You can search the online catalog from the Destiny search box above or go directly to the WAMS Destiny catalog.

Material Types: You may find many types of materials in your search results list.  Once you locate material you want, look at the Call Number to determine where to find the material in the Media Center.  Below is a list of some of the abbreviations you may see in a Call Number for informational material.

B - Biography                                    VF Vertical File            DVD - Digital video discs

REF - Reference                              VT Videotape               CASS - Audiocassette

MAG - Magazine or Journal            PRO - Professional


Nonfiction Books are organized according to the Dewey Decimal System, which classifies information groupings using the following number categories.  These numbers are also found in a book's or other informational material's Call Number.

000-999      General Works                  500-599      Natural Sciences

100-199      Philosophy                         600-699      Technology and Applied Sciences

200 - 299     Religion                             700-799       Arts and Recreation

300-399      Social Sciences                800-899      Literature

400-499      Language                           900-999      History/Geography/Collective Biography

Ask a media specialist for help in locating print sources if necessary.  Don't give up if you have trouble finding a source.  Taking that extra effort can really pay off in finding the "perfect" source on your topic.