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Christopher Center Library Services

How Do I... ?

What follows here are many of the questions we hear at our various public service desks, roughly categorized to provide you with easier access to them. Have a question you don't see answered here? Ask Us!, or contact the Circulation Desk at 464-5500 during library hours and someone will either answer that question or direct you to a library staff person who can.


How do I check-out and return materials?

According to all basic Lending Policies, all borrowers must present a barcoded ID to check out materials. This insures that only your record will be called up in the catalog and not the record of someone else with a similar name. While most items will be checked-out at the Main Circulation Desk, a secondary Circulation Desk is available on the 1st floor. For specifics on returning items, please check the different options available.

How do I renew books using the website?

Information on how to renew books online is available here.

To renew books that you received through our Interlibrary Loan Office, please log into ILLiad, select "Checked out items" on the left hand side, click on the transaction number of interest, and then click on "renew request" at the top of the page.

How do I learn more about reserve items?

Materials are placed on Reserve by the professor of the course who fills out a Reserve form. The professor determines the loan period which may be 2/hour library use only, 2/hour overnight, 3 days, or 1 week. A complete listing of reserves by course title and professor is available in the catalog. Simply follow the instructions on the Main Menu under the"Reserves" options and proceed from there. Circulation personnel will be glad to guide you through should you need assistance. For more information, contact the circulation department, (219) 464-5500, or e-mail Moecirc@valpo.edu.

How do I learn what different library terms mean?

Ask a library staff member or check the Library Service's Jargon page.

How do I use Library Services' electronic resources from off-campus?

You can gain off-campus access to the electronic resources (also called databases or journal collections) by using the VU Proxy Server.

To use the proxy server, all you need to do is click the name of the database you’d like to access, and login using your VU e-mail username and password.

If questions remain, contact IT at 464-5678, Library Services at 464-5500, or use our Ask Us! email service.

How do I make a suggestion?

Use the online Suggestion form. Whether your suggestion is a recommended purchase by the library, how we can change a service, or a good idea you'd like to share about the library, we want to hear from you. You may also stop by the Circulation Desk and fill out a paper form if you wish. Circulation personnel will be happy to assist you.

How do I begin (and carry out) my research project?

Realize that research is a process. Each step requires certain strategies and tools. The first step is to select, define, and transform your topic. This step, and the ones that follow it, are clearly detailed in the user guide, Research Path: Step by Step.

How do I get help with my research?

You can start with our Class Help & Library Guides, but if you do not find what you need there, Ask Us! This page offers options for scheduling help in-person, via email, via phone, or by instant messaging. Trained faculty and staff provide individualized assistance to you with developing research strategies as well as learning how to use electronic and print library resources.

How do I format my research paper?

Different academic disciplines require different formats for research presentation. Some of the more common styles are MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), CBE (Council of Biology Editors), Turabian, and the University of Chicago Press. Library Services owns print editions of these and other style manuals. The Writing Center provides excellent assistance in all aspects of your research paper writing, in-person and online.

How do I cite sources in my finished project?

Different academic disciplines require different formats for citation styles. Some of the more common styles are MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), CBE (Council of Biology Editors), Turabian, and the University of Chicago Press. Library Services owns print editions of these and other style manuals. The Writing Center provides excellent assistance in all aspects of your research paper writing, in-person and online.

How do I find journal or periodical articles? (OR) How do I find out if we own a copy of the article I need?

Once you have found the article citation, search JournaLocator for online availability through our full-text databases. If your journal title (not the article title) is not listed in JournaLocator, check the catalog for the periodical or journal title (not the article title) to see if VU libraries own the periodical or journal.

No luck there? Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a service to provide you with materials that VU libraries don't own. ILL's web page includes information about the process and online request forms.

How do I distinguish between scholarly, professional, and popular journal articles?

There are many types of journals and magazines, ranging from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) to Rolling Stone, and each has a target audience. Academic research often requires that you use scholarly and professional journals as your sources. Look at the user guide, Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals, to learn the applicable criteria with which to make those distinctions.

How do I evaluate journal or periodical articles?

All journals, periodicals, and newspapers have a bias. It may be only in the editorials, or in all of the articles, but it is always there somewhere. Be aware of, and learn to use, those biases in formatting your research arguments. The areas to evaluate are: authorship, publisher/sponsor, purpose/point of view, content, coverage/scope, and currency. Each of these areas has specific points to consider. Some of the more popular periodical/journal titles are noted, along with their biases, in the user guide, Evaluating Resource Quality: Identifying Bias. Asking a librarian for advice is also recommended.

How do I evaluate web sites?

Using web sites for research requires you to be especially critical of each site's source and contents. The areas to evaluate are the same as for print in many ways: authorship, publisher/sponsor, purpose/point of view, content, coverage/scope, currency, and workability. Each of these areas has specific points to consider. Evaluating Resource Quality: Web Resources details the criteria of each of those areas and offers more in-depth information on web site evaluation.