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ENGL 357 Bernhard: Books

Why use books for research?

Books containing scholarly work provide:

  • Well established ideas about a topic
  • Contents that are often written by experts
  • Background information
  • Overview of big issues
  • Bibliographies, or list of sources that you find and use.
  • Use books quickly by browsing through the table of contents or by using the index to find precisely what you need.

Review: Search the catalog using keywords

1. A search for Anne Bronte will offer her works as well as biographical sources.

2. Limit to BOOK format and look through your list until you find A companion to the Brontës by Hoeveler & Morse.

2.5 Click the "View all subjects" link and then Brontë, Anne, -- 1820-1849 -- Criticism and interpretation.

3. A reminder about Interlibrary Loan. 

4.  A search for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall will discover the title as well as works in which this work is discussed or mentioned

5. Have a look inside of the ebook: Bleak houses : marital violence in Victorian fiction

6. Cite this source from within the library catalog.

Evaluating Book Sources

When evaluating the content of a book, you need to check if it is accurate and relevant

Questions to ask:

  • Does the title indicate that the book is too specific or not specific enough? Is there a subtitle with more information?
  • What audience is the book directed towards?
  • Does the book address a topic from a certain timeframe and/or geographic area?
  • What sources did the author use?
  • Is the information current and up-to-date? Does it need to be?


  • Multiple editions indicate the book is well regarded enough to have been through revisions, and has been updated.

  • Scan the preface or the introduction for a statement on why the book was written and what the author hopes to accomplish with it. Often the author will also let you know what perspective of bias he or she brings to the topic.

  • Look for references and/or a bibliography (may be called Works Cited, Sources, etc.). This list shows you what kind of sources the author used to write the book.

  • Browse the Table of Contents to see what the book covers. Look up one or two of your keywords in the index in the back of the book to see if they're there. Is the entire book devoted to your topic? Is there a whole chapter? Or just a paragraph or two?

  • Search library databases for book reviews to find out what others think of the author's book.

  • Look at the subject headings assigned to the book using a library cataloge or database record to help you check for content relevance.

  • When deciding if a book's content is current, check the publication date and the dates of the references used in the book's bibliography.

  • Exercise care when looking at a book's publication date. It can take up to two years for a book to be published. Be aware that some dates represent the year a book was republished (as a paperback, or after being out of print for some years).

    Adapted from CQ University:

Call Number Locator

Use our online Call Number Locator to quickly find the book you need!