Print Sources

How to talk about it in class:

Your students may not know to go look for a book. Let them know the advantages...

  • Bibliographies
  • Tables of content and indexes
  • More in depth coverage or analysis of a topic
  • More data and statistics from more than just one study

And the disadvantages...

  • Articles that appear in journals and are reported upon in newspapers and magazines are the most recent scholarship on a topic whereas books may synthesize a body of scholarship and take longer to write and publish

Information for AIs:

Some AIs like to require that students find something in print in the library - physically. I understand. Here is why I discourage it:

  • 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.
  • 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 pick up a magazine or newspaper, even if it is the Daily Texan. Seeing where articles appear in a print publication allows students to see context and determine how important that publication thinks a topic, issue or event is.

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.


  • 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.