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MSJC Library

Research Help

The research tools you need to succeed are in the Library! Check out the resources below to get started. Not finding what you need? Chat online with a librarian or Peer Research Assistant (PRA) or stop by the Research Desk at any of our campus libraries.



Library databases connect you with articles, eBooks, streaming video, primary sources, reference materials, and more. Some of our most used databases are highlighted on this page, but you have access to many more as a MSJC student.

Browse all databases on our A-Z List!

Scholarly Article Databases

  • EBSCO Cross-search content from multiple EBSCO databases. Also includes articles from popular magazines and newspapers.
  • Gale Power Search Cross-search content from multiple Gale databases.
  • JSTOR Scholarly journals database that covers many disciplines within the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Pro Con Databases


Streaming Video

  • Academic Video Online Educational streaming videos including documentaries, films, demonstrations, etc.
  • American History in Video Streaming video content; more than half is contemporary video from the 1890s to the 1980s. 
  • Docuseek Includes independent, social-issue and environmental documentaries.
  • Films on Demand Features educational streaming videos in dozens of subject areas.
  • Kanopy Streaming Video Includes documentaries, classic films, Great Courses, PBS, and indie and world cinema.
  • PBS Video Collection, 4th ed. Provides a range of content with the most valuable video documentaries and series from PBS. 


  • Credo Reference Hundreds of reference books covering every major subject with detailed entries and images.
  • EBSCOhost eBooks Digital versions of print books from a broad range of subjects.
  • Gale eBooks Academic eBooks from a variety of subject areas, including encyclopedias and other specialized sources.
  • Oxford Reference Library Contains specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias published by Oxford University Press.
  • Springer eBbooks Academic eBooks on life sciences, behavioral health, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and more.

Primary Sources

Research Guides

Library Research Guides provide students with specific resources and information that assist in the research process. Each guide is built around a general subject or a specific class. Be sure to check out our event and exhibit guides as well, which celebrate and build awareness about significant people and events.

Learn to Research

Online Library Orientation

The MSJC Online Library Orientation will walk you through the essential elements of finding and using information for your research assignments. Topics are divided into six modules:

  • Getting Started with Research
  • Sources of Information
  • Searching for Information
  • Evaluating Information
  • Presenting Research and Data
  • Citations and Academic Integrity

Each module includes a selection of short videos and tutorials focused on particular aspects of the topic. You may go through all of the modules in order to complete the entire orientation, or skip directly to the specific topics you want to learn more about.

Library Workshops

Library Workshops are:

  • Targeted to specific databases or research skills.
  • Workshops scheduled throughout the fall and spring semesters. See the Library Workshop calendar for the current schedule and to sign up.
  • Take place outside of class time via Zoom.
  • 30 minutes or less.

How to Videos

Check out brief research video tutorials on our YouTube channel!

Peer Research Assistants

Our Peer Research Assistants (PRAs) are fellow MSJC students who are ready to help you get started and build your skills in navigating your research assignments. Make an appointment with a PRA to get one-on-one research help from one of your peers!

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Your instructor said that you cannot use the Internet to find sources for your paper. Instead, you have to use "scholarly articles" and other academic resources from the library. So, what does that mean?

Scholarly articles appear in journals that are published by universities, societies, or associations of specialized fields. Articles are written by scholars in that field who present the results of original research and experimentation or provide technical or professional information. They usually go through a peer-review evaluation process before being published, which means they are reviewed by other scholars in the same field who provide feedback about the article's quality, accuracy, relevance to scholarship in the field, validity of research methodology and procedures, and more. Popular articles, on the other hand, are published in magazines and newspapers and are often written by journalists or staff writers. They are meant for general interest or entertainment.

How can you tell the difference between scholarly and popular sources? Review the tabs in this section for more info!

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journal images

  • Focused on a particular field of study
  • Based on original research or experimentation
  • Written by scholars or experts in a particular field
  • Read by professionals, students or educators in the subject area
  • Use scholarly, technical, research-oriented language
  • Include references, bibliographies or footnotes
  • Contain little or no pictures or advertising

Ready to start searching for scholarly journal articles? Try EBSCO, Gale, and JSTOR databases. Connect to those through the Databases section above.

Popular Magazines

Popular magazine images

  • General interest stories or entertainment information
  • Based on fact-finding and/or opinion
  • Written by staff writers or journalists
  • Read by the general public
  • Easy to understand language
  • Usually do not include references
  • Contain lots of colorful pictures and advertising

Understanding Call Numbers

Have you ever wondered how library books are assigned their places on the shelves? Each item is given a unique code, called a call number, that is printed on the spine label of the book. A call number is like an address: it tells us where the book is located in the library. Knowing a little bit about call numbers will help you find the items you need in the library.

Understanding Call Numbers

Like many academic libraries, the MSJC Libraries use Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by broad subjects, specific subtopics, and authors or titles. When you search for a book in the library catalog, you'll see that each one has a call number. Jot the number down and you can match it to the spine label of that specific book on the shelf. Because books are arranged by subject, you can often find other books nearby that will fit your research. This does not mean that all books on a topic will be in the same section, though! For example, if you search the online catalog for books on "social media addiction," they could be located under social media or personality disorders, which are shelved in different areas of the library. Check out the image below which shows three different call numbers for books found with a search for "social media addiction."

call number screenshot for social media addiction search

Reading Call Numbers

Let's break down finding a book on the shelf using the first example above. In the catalog the call number is displayed left to right as HM742 .M657 2020. On the spine label it will be laid out top to bottom:





To find the book on the shelf, go down the label, reading each line as you go.

  • First look for the HM section alphabetically. All books starting with HM will be together on the shelf.
  • Next look for the number 742. This is a whole number, but some books may also have a decimal in this number, breaking the topic down more. All books with HM 742 will be together on the shelf.
  • Now move to the next section .M657. Find HM 742 .M alphabetically and look for .M657. Notice the decimal point in front! This decimal is important to remember because numbers in this section are read as decimals. .M5473 would come before .M657, which would be before .M72.
  • The last line is the date the book was published, 2020.

This covers the basics of understanding a call number. Be sure to ask at any of the service desks for assistance if you have trouble finding what you need!

Interested in learning more about how the Library of Congress system arranges materials by subjects? Check out the Library of Congress Classification Outline to find the letters for your subject area. This will give you a place to start browsing the shelves.