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ENG 295 (Sorisio)

Research Tips

Tip 1:  Although I am a big fan of using online databases to find scholarly journal articles, for this particular class, I am suggesting that you consider start your research into your historical context with reference sources and books/book chapters.  These sources are better at giving you the background and overview of a historical topic, while scholarly articles in specialized history journals are often on extremely narrow topics. 

Tip 2:  Remember to mine the bibliographies of reference sources and any other good source you find to more sources.  This can save you a lot of time and is something that scholars do themselves!  Check and see if the library has a source by typing in the name of the article (add the author's last name if the title is short) into our Library Search tool.

Tip 3: Use our interlibrary loan systems!  Remember that Professor Sorisio wants good quality sources.  If we don't have have a recent book or a great article on a topic, we can still get it in 2-3 business days.

Tip 4:  Remember that the key to finding good sources is to be willing to try more than one database and try multiple searches.  Remember that changing even one word in a search will bring back very different results.  For instance 'Hawthorne women', 'women 19th', 'women nineteenth' and 'marriage 19th' might all bring back useful sources if you were researching how Hawthorne's portrayal of women in the Scarlet Letter reflected the roles and status of women in the 19th century.


Given that we are all working remotely for the rest of the semester, starting with ebooks is going to be fastest and easiest.  

You can limit any library catalog search to ebooks by doing the following steps.

1) search for a topic in the catalog.

2)  Near the top of the left-hand column, under the heading Show Only, click on Full Text Online.

3) A bit lower in the same column, under the heading Source Type, click on Books

4) Now scroll back to the top of that column and find your two limiters there.  You need to lock them in place.  However over each until an image of a blue padlock appears.  Click the padlock.  The closed blue padlock image will remain. 

5)  Click on the title of a book to see the table of contents and find the link to the full text.

Print Books

If you need a book that we only own in print, we will mail it to you, but that will take a few days up to a week.  Currently we only have staff entering the library two days a week to do this. We also send a postage paid return envelope with it.

Full books

If you find a print book you'd like to have mailed, you can request that it be mailed to your home address.

The steps are:

1) Click on the title of the book to get to the information screen

2) Log into the system so it knows its you!

3) Click on the request button.

4) Under the 'where would you like to pick this up" menu select Home Address  and put your home address in the comments field.

This video will lead you through the process:



Spring 2020: The library does have a limited ability to scan chapters from books to send to you, but you need to be able to identify a particular chapter either by title or page numbers.  We usually won't be able to do more than one chapter per book, because of copyright issues. It is a quicker option than having a full book mailed, but still may take several days.

To make a request to get a chapter scanned:

  • Click the title of a book and scroll down to find the table of contents (note that this will not be available for all books)
  • Submit it as a chapter request via ILLiad.
    • In ILLiad, provide as much information as you can, but especially both the book title and chapter title.  The call number of the book or the permalink to the catalog record would also be very helpful.
    • In the note field, indicate that it is a book on our WCU print collection.

Sample companions and encyclopedias


A number of academic publishers (including Oxford, Cambridge, Routledge, and Blackwell) publish series of books under the titles Introduction/Companion/Guide/Handbook to_______.  In these companions, each chapter is dedicated to a sub-topic or time period.  I buy a lot of these for both Literature and History, because they often provide the prefect level of background information.

Need a book we don't have?

Books WCU Libraries don't own

Can't find good books in our catalog on your topic?  Try searching a larger collection (see below).  Any books that we don't own, we can get for you from another library, for free, in just 2-3 business days through our EZ-Borrow interlibrary loan system.

EZ-Borrow Tips:

  • Your log-in is the 16 digit number on the back of your Ram Card, though you won't need it if you are accessing EZ-Borrow from the Library Search Tool or a library database.  If you don't have a Ram Card you can request a number here.
  • I usually search in EZ-Borow by title.  You don't need to put in the entire title, just enough words to make the search distinctive enough so the book you want appears near the top.
  • You can also put in keywords and see what comes up and request things that we don't own!
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