Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Introduction to Research at the Library

Learn to think like a librarian! This guide is an introduction (or a refresher) to using the library to find books and journal articles.


The University of Illinois subscribes to over a thousand different databases that can help you access the content you need. It can be overwhelming to know how to start searching, so we've suggested a few strategies below to help you get started.

If you want to search broadly for articles on a particular topic...

If you know what you're looking for...

Easy Search

Easy Search is a search and discovery tool that allows you to explore a variety of resources simultaneously - including articles, books, media, and websites. It searches many (but not all) of the databases UIUC subscribes to, so it can be a great place to start if you want to see a broad selection of resources at once.

Check out the short video below to learn how to search and interpret your results using the Library's Easy Search!

Departmental Libraries

The University of Illinois library system has about 25 departmental libraries that serve different academic units and hold unique collections. Each library has its own web page that serves as an access point for recommended resources for a given discipline.

To find a departmental library that serves your department or major, you can view a list of libraries by college and major or take a look at an alphabetical list of all libraries on campus.

Each departmental library's homepage has links to recommended resources and databases for the disciplines and majors that it serves. This is an excellent resource if you are just getting started and don't know where to start searching.

Databases by Subject

The Library's A-Z Databases list has every database the library owns. Not sure which database to use for your research? You can filter this list by subject, which will also bring up a list of "best bets" hand picked by librarians.

There's also a "database type" filter which will allow you to limit to databases that specialize in a particular resource type like primary sources or newspapers!

Practice: Hands-On Activity

  1. Locate the departmental libraries that serves your college major, and write down three databases that they recommend.
  2. Using the Journal Search tool in the catalog, locate the journal called The Journal of Race, Gender, and Poverty. What years do we have access to this journal? What company/companies proves full-text access? (hint: look for where it says "Full text available via...".