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How to talk about it in class:

When and why books are useful:
Books can be useful for finding many types of information including facts, statistics, analysis, viewpoints and personal narratives. Because they are often on broader topics than articles since they are longer and can cover more ground, students may have to find books on the broader topic and then use the table of contents or index to find out where in the book information pertinent to their position is. In addition, since books take a while to be published, they are not going to cover very current topics. Instead, students will have to find the broader topic within which to place their current controversy (ex: there are plenty of books about physician-assisted suicide, but if a student is researching a recent law - for example, the 2013 Texas Senate Bill 303 about DNR orders - that won’t yet be in a book.)

Why would I use a print article? Aren’t they all online?
Explain to students that while the Libraries subscribes to articles electronically whenever possible, not everything is available online. If you find something listed in a database and it isn’t available online, you’ll be directed to search for it in print in the Library Catalog so you can figure out where it is on the shelf and go to the library to get it.

Information for AIs:

Facts about the Libraries print collections:

  • The Libraries receive a great deal of content electronically rather than in print. If we have the option to get a journal electronically rather than in print, we will go with the electronic subscription.
  • We currently receive very few US newspapers in print, but have access to thousands through databases such as LexisNexis and Library Press Display.
  • We have some popular magazines in print, but the vast majority are available through databases.
  • There are very few print periodical indexes. Instead, databases serve as those indexes, pointing researchers to the sources on their topic and in many cases providing the full text of that source as well.

Common issues with requiring students find viewpoint articles in print:

  • If you want them to use print articles, keep in mind that this frequently means students end up focusing more on the format than the content. For example, if they find a useful article and it is only available through the database and not in print, they just skip it and go through the results list until they find any article that meets the print requirement.

Effective ways to get your students to use print collections:

  • Require a print book for unit 3 when students are moving beyond viewpoints to find evidence to support the position they are advocating. They can mine books for facts as well as viewpoints. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the Libraries also subscribe to hundreds of thousands of e-books.
  • Have them use a print article so they can understand publication context (rather than just focusing on article content). One great thing about print articles in a newspaper or magazine is that students can see where in the publication the article appears and what else is in that publication and use that information as part of their evaluation of the article. Because students frequently get their information disaggregated and de-contextualized (think Facebook or Google News), they need help understanding what the context of a publication can uncover.

Assignments, Activities and Resources:


  • Library Catalog: searches the print collections of the UT Libraries (as well as e-books, DVDs, CDs, etc.)
  • GoogleBooks: excellent as a discovery tool. This will allow them to search inside the content of a book for their particular controversy. If the full text of the book isn't available in GoogleBooks (for example, if there is only a limited preview available) or they want the book in print, they can then search the Library Catalog for the title of their book.
    • TIP: If a book the Libraries own is available either as a limited preview or full text in GoogleBooks, there will be a link to it in the full record for the book in the Library Catalog.
  • Print newspapers in the PCL periodicals room and popular magazines in PCL UFCU Student Learning Commons: Unfortunately, we don’t maintain active lists of these collections as they change frequently. However, if you want to construct an assignment asking students to use a newspaper or popular magazine in print in the PCL, you can always come by the PCL to find out what we have on the shelves. Keep in mind that these collections are rotated out. Generally one year of a magazine is available before being bound and sent to the stacks, and a few months of a newspaper are available.


  • Find a book: Show students how to search for books on a topic in the Library Catalog, using Google Books as a discovery tool if you so choose. Then ask them to find a book themselves in the library. To do so, you may assign this find books exercise or simply require a book as a source in their bibliography. Alternately, you can just tell them to watch the Find Books video and skip going over it in class.
    • TIP: Even if you do cover this in class, you may want to show them the part of the Find Books video that explains with visuals how to navigate the shelves with a call number, a skill new to many of your students.
  • Evaluating article context: Pick articles from newspapers and magazines that you know are available in print in PCL and ask your students to find the article in print and analyze the context. Use this Determining and Evaluating Context worksheet. Have students discuss what they learned in class.
    • CAUTION! Don’t assign more than one or two students to any given source. Often they end up getting set down somewhere in the library or misshelved by the first student to use it and then none of the other students can find the source to do the assignment.


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101 East 21st St.
Austin, TX. 78713

Phone: (512) 495-4250

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