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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Guide to Literatures and Languages Databases: Literature Resource Center

Scope of Coverage

What the Literature Resource Center covers:

The LRC contains:

  • Biographical summaries from sources like Contemporary Authors and the Dictionary of Literary Biography
  • Full-text articles from more than 390 journals and literary magazines
  • Overviews of frequently studied works
  • Full-text poems, short stories, and plays
  • More than 8,500 interviews
  • Links to selected Web sites
  • Definitions of literary terms from the Encyclopedia of Literature


Although the majority of resources at LRC are in English, there are also many items in French, German, and Spanish.

Dates of Coverage

The LRC goes all the way back to the 22nd century B.C.E.! But most of what you find won't be nearly that old. But the LRC doesn't always contain the most up-to-date journal articles. Start in the LRC to find out what has been written on your topic or author, and then see what you can find in MLA International Bibliography and other more in-depth resources.

Full-Text Access

Full text is immediately available in the Literature Resource Center.

Additional Help

If you have questions, don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian for help!

Search Fields

There are several ways that you can search through the Literature Resource Center:

Person – By or About: Searches for items by or about a particular person.

Name of Work: Search for materials about a particular work.

Keywords: Search for key terms in article/book title, abstract, subjects and first fifty words of the text.  

Entire Document: This option will search for the words anywhere in a document. Note: If you're looking for a famous quotation, enclose the quotation in "quotation marks" so that the database treats it as a phrase.


Limits  are a tool in the database's search page that allow you to leave out certain types of materials based on various factors.  Here are some of the most common ones you might use:

Limit by Peer-reviewed publications (Advanced Search): This will limit your results to only scholarly journals and books.

Limit by Publication date/Limit by publication century (Advanced Search): This will limit your results to ones published on a specific date, year, or time period.

Limit by Content Type: You can limit your results to certain content types, such as Multimedia, Literature Criticism, or Topic & Work Overviews.

Limit by Publication title: Type a specific journal or magazine title her to search for materials in one publication.

Limit by document type: Limit your search to specific types of documents, such as a book review or column. To select more than one, hold down the CTRL key while selecting each one.


How to Search the LRC


The Literature Resource Center is probably the most friendly database for you to start your literary research.  It has a simple search interface and divides your results into the categories of Literature Criticism, Biographies, Topic & Work Overviews, Reviews & News, Primary Sources & Literary Works, and Multimedia materials.  Here's an overview of how to use the LRC.


Basic Search v. Advanced Search

Basic Search allows you to search for keywords or phrases by "Person - By or About," "Name of Work," or "Entire Document."


If your results are too many with the Basic Search, try using Advanced Search:  Advanced Search allows you to search with multiple key terms and add more limits (including by language, document type, and target audience), which will narrow your results.


Person Search and Works Search

The Person Search and Works Search allow you to conduct highly focused searches:  The Person Search will search by nationality, literary movement, genre, or place and time of death.  This search is best used for finding all materials on a known author like Sherman Alexie or a grouping of authors, such as Native American short story writers. The Works Search, like the Person Search, allows you to search by type of work, the author's nationality, the publication year, or the original language.  But remember that this database is NOT exhaustive.

Ordering Your Results

Unless you specify otherwise, the LRC will search multiple content types and arrange your results by Relevance in these divided categories:

  • Literature Criticism
  • Biographies
  • Topic & Work Overviews
  • Reviews & News
  • Primary Sources & Literary Works
  • Multimedia

You can view the complete results for each category by clicking the  button at the end of each section or by selecting a "Content Type" from the panel on the right-hand side of the screen.

Other Ways to Narrow Your Results

If you have too many results, use the options in the panel on the right-hand side of the page to narrow your results. The white search bar near the top of this panel allows you to search again within your results. Alternatively, below the search bar is a list of Limits: Subjects, Person - About, Name of Work, Author - Items By, Publication Title, and Document Type. To expand the options for each limit, click on the plus sign.  Under "Analyze" you can find the Topic Finder and Term Frequency tools. For more information on how to use these features see the library's guide for Literature Criticism Online.