START in the library

As a Penn State student, you have access to an unbelievable number of resources, including over five million books and hundreds of databases. Don’t be overwhelmed by all this information; instead, take control of it, using the tabs below as your guide.

Research Guides

Research Guides, written by Penn State University librarians, contain recommended sources, such as databases, reference sources, journals, and websites. I recommend clicking on a broad category to see all the guides offered in a specific discipline. If you know the name of a specific guide, choose MORE to access the alphabetical list.


Background Info

Gale Virtual Reference Library is a good place to begin when you need basic background information and a general overview of a topic. Both Gale Virtual Reference Library and Oxford Reference Online contain subject encyclopedias and specialized dictionaries.

CQ Researcher Online is an excellent source for background information and an overview of a topic.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context provides research and background information on social issues. The database contains the essays from the Opposing Viewpoints series, supplemented by statistics, primary documents, links to websites, and full-text magazine and newspaper articles.


Citing Your Sources

Citations serve a dual purpose; in addition to giving credit to the author(s) of the sources you use in your papers, properly formatted citations also allow your reader to find the sources you used. Two of the most commonly used citation styles are APA and MLA. Please use the following guides to help you format your citations:

APA 6th Edition Quick Reference (July 2009)

MLA 7th Edition Quick Reference (April 2010)

APA does not provide much guidance for citing websites. However, I’ve found helpful information, such as “How to Cite Something You Found on a Website in APA Style,” on the official APA Style Blog.


Interlibrary Loan

InterLibrary Loan (ILLiad) supports the research needs of Penn State faculty and students by obtaining materials from other campuses and other institutions.

Books may be picked up at the York campus, while most articles are delivered electronically to your ILLiad account. We are able to get almost any article you will ever need, so start your research early and see me if you need help.

You will have to register the first time you use ILLiad. You will then request items by choosing the appropriate category on the left side of the ILLiad page.



You can find books, DVDs, CDs, and links to electronic resources in The CAT.

The loan period for students is the entire semester and undergraduates may have a maximum of 200 items checked out.

If the item you want is not at the York campus, request it by clicking “I Want It.” You will be asked for your Access ID and password. Select York as the pickup location and then click Place Hold. Books usually arrive at our campus within 2-3 days.

You’ll be notified via e-mail when your books arrive. You can also choose to receive library notifications as text messages.

For information about E-books at Penn State, take a look at the E-Books Research Guide.

See the Searching The CAT page for search tips and examples.



When you need to find an article from a periodical (magazine, newspaper, or scholarly journal), use one of our online databases.

Many instructors require students to use scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles for college research papers. However, students often don’t know where to find these articles and aren’t even sure what a scholarly article looks like. The chart from the Periodicals and Journals Research Guide outlines the differences between scholarly journals, trade publications, and popular magazines. The more you use these types of sources, the easier it becomes to recognize the common structure they share. If you want to learn more about the different types of articles, review the information from “Types of Research and Scholarly Articles” and look at examples found on the Article Examples page.

If you are looking for a particular journal, search below to determine the availability:

If you know the name of the database you want to search, use the Databases by Title (A-Z) list.

You may need to click the Get it! button to find the full text.

Below are some recommended databases:

Remember to also check the appropriate Research Guide for your topic for database recommendations.


News Sources

Access World News (NewsBank) – search newspapers from around the world, or narrow your search to major newspapers, United States newspapers, or Pennsylvania newspapers. This database contains contains The Sun (Baltimore), The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, and local papers such as The Patriot-News (Harrisburg), the York Daily Record, the York Sunday News, The York Dispatch, and the Lancaster papers.

Penn State Live – The University’s Official News Source

The Daily Collegian – Penn State University’s student-operated newspaper

The Weekly Collegian – This publication, which covers events and issues unique to Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, is available in the York campus library.

UWIRE – content from over 800 college newspapers. You can search for your topic or choose the Opinion tab to read through student editorials for ideas.



Google Search tip


Career Info

You can find information on careers and job search preparation on the Career Resources for all Majors page from Schreyer Business Library. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is a valuable resource. Another interesting source of information is the “Career Journal” from The Wall Street Journal.

The Career Information Center from Penn State’s Career Services also contains links to valuable resources, such as WetFeet and Vault. Read this overview for more information: WetFeet and Vault Information

Think Global website – A Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) website to help students learn about global issues; study those issues through related course work, majors and minors; and connect with resources leading to real-world involvement, both now and after graduation.



This semester we are introducing LionSearch, an easier way to discover library content, using one search box.

LionSearch should make your research easier, but keep in mind, not all of our content is accessible through LionSearch.