Today, we want to give a heads-up to our researchers to make sure they know that the Library is part of LibGuides, where thousands of libraries post and share their research guides.
If you’re not already familiar: The guides show what’s available on a given subject, highlight key books, subscription databases and primary historical sources. They’re a great tool for researchers, from the beginner to the expert, particularly since the information has been vetted by a librarian. Better, LibGuides are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here at the Library, you might have heard of our research guides referred to as bibliographies, subject overviews, webguides, or a virtual reference shelf. These guides (there are more than 50) cover a vast array of subjects: the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; American Realism; BREXIT; Halloween & Día de Muertos Resources; Native American History and Culture: Finding Pictures; Rosa Parks and so on. We are always updating these and adding new ones.
LibGuides has been so seamlessly implemented you probably haven’t noticed. In a Google search about a particular subject, for example, you’ll see the Library higher in your search results. Click on the link, and you’ll find our reference material. Experienced researchers, who might start a search at loc.gov, will also find the guides incorporated in the list of all the Library’s resources; no separate searching is needed.
Questions? Just hit the “Ask a Librarian” button on any guides to get friendly help. Meanwhile, some frequent questions about research methods are answered below by our LibGuides coordinating team.
Can a researcher ask that a new guide be created? How do librarians prepare these subject overviews? Suggestions for new guides are welcome! Please send them to the Ask a Librarian service. Librarians start a new guide by outlining the topic, investigating the different types of resources available, and confirming which sources are reliable. Descriptive notes indicate the scope of a source or draw attention to a special feature. We’re sharing our best advice about where to locate useful information, whether you need an overview of a subject, tips for starting points, or comprehensive and exhaustive coverage.
The “Beginner Guides” series for law topics on In Custodia Legis and Law.gov look interesting, with more than 10 guides already released. We want to create guides that help with daily life. To that end, we have recently published “Landlord-Tenant Law: A Beginner’s Guide,” “Neighbor Law: A Beginner’s Guide,” and “Small Claims Court: A Beginner’s Guide,” “Legal Drafting: A Beginner’s Guide,” “Wills, Probate, and Advance Directives: A Beginner’s Guide.”
Why do you include old as well as new books, subscription databases, subject headings, and external websites in the guides? As reference librarians, we include both historical and recent sources because it is important to provide researchers with broad and deep coverage of authoritative sources on a topic. The research guides have links to subscription databases so that researchers are aware of ways to access thousands of sources, such as scholarly journal articles, historical and current newspapers and periodicals, auction records, art images, and much more. Many of the research guides contain Library of Congress subject headings as a way to narrow and focus a user’s search in online catalogs. Links to important collections and items at external institutions are included to give researchers a wide array of resources.
Do I have to come to the Library of Congress? No. Many of the sources are available in other libraries or online collections. For the subscription databases, rare books, and unique historical documents, please contact us for information about availability.
LibGuides Working Group: Front, l-r: Debora Keysor, Laura Berberian, Barbara Bavis. Back, l-r: Elizabeth (Betsy) Fulford, Donna Brearcliffe.
How can I can find these guides? You can start with an Internet search service, such as Google or Bing. Try a search for “13th amendment” and you’ll likely see “guides.loc.gov” early in the search results. Or, if you are already on the Library of Congress website, any search will include the Library’s LibGuides publications. Online collections and other Web pages at the Library also link directly to relevant LibGuides.
What else should researchers should know about using LibGuides? Keep sending us your questions! Every “research guide” from the Library of Congress includes an “Ask a Librarian” box for easy access to our reference librarians. We’re here to help you succeed with your research by email, in person, or by phone. Learn more: Mann, Thomas, 1948- The Oxford Guide to Library Research. Fourth edition. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, . Springshare. LibGuides Community.
Subscribe to the blog— it’s free! — and the largest library in world history will send one cool story to your inbox Monday-Friday.