Earlier you learned how to find information you already know about subjects. Sometimes you will know something about your subject for a research report and can use one of the methods. At other times, however, you will know very little and will need to go directly to outside sources.
Reference books, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, and almanacs, are good places to begin your search for information. The information in these books is very general, but will lead you to sources such as magazines and books that can give you more specific information. You can locate magazine articles about your topic, for instance, in the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. (See “Library Skills.”)
At the end of each article, some encyclopedias list names of specific books relating to the subjects of that article. You can also use the subject cards in your library’s card catalogue to find books. If you do not find a subject card with your exact topic, try a closely related topic. For example, suppose you want to write a report on holography, a way of making three-dimensional pictures. Checking the subject cards, you find that your library does not have a book on holography, but it does have a book on laser lights. Since laser lights are used to make these three-dimensional pictures, you think this book might have information on holography.
When you want to know if a book has information on your topic, check its index. The index is an alphabetical listing at the back of the book of all topics covered in it and the page numbers where they can be found. Following this paragraph is a sample from the index of Herman Schneider’s book Laser Light. 1 In the H section you find the topic holography and learn that you can read about this topic of that book.