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The Research Process

When to Use Books


Use a Book:

  • when looking for lots of information or ideas on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument
  • to get a broad overview on a subject, as opposed to something very specific

Books can provide you with important background information for a research assignment. They might be popular or scholarly, and might be influenced by the author's point of view, so always use your critical thinking skills to evaluate books, just as you would any other source.

When aren't books the best choice? Bear in mind that the lengthy publication cycle of a book can take 6 months to many years, given the time it takes to research, write, edit, publish, print and deliver books, so don't expect a book to cover the most recent ideas or events. If you need very recent information, look for articles and information on the Web.

What? No time? You may not need to read the entire book! Try looking in the Table of Contents (TOC) in the front of the book or the index in the back of the book to zero in on just what you need.

Search the Catalog

Access to print materials limited due to COVID-19 precautions

HELM Logo Search the new HELM Catalog to find books and other materials available from the STCC Library and other community college libraries.

How to Use the Catalog

Use the catalog to find items in this and other HELM libraries. You can search our catalog

  • by an AUTHOR, putting in the last name first;
  • by the TITLE of an item;
  • by the assigned SUBJECT of an item, if you know it,  or
  • by KEYWORD. Keywords are essential words that you want to see in an item, for example, "business ethics." Try to think of alternative ways to get at your subject, for example, using "whistleblower," or "white collar crime" as alternative keywords.

If you don't find what you need or want, your catalog can be expanded to search other libraries with whom we have borrowing privileges, by dropping down the box where STCC appears. This is a list of all the community college libraries in Massachusetts that are members of HELM and that you can borrow from online.

You can search the collection of an individual library by clicking on that library, or scroll to the top and click on All HELM Libraries. If you find an item that you want to order, you can click on Place Hold, and log into your library account to request it.

You will be asked WHERE you want your item delivered.

  • PLEASE make sure you have it delivered to STCC.
  • Click submit to have your request completed. You will get a call from the STCC Library when the item arrives here.
  • Delivery takes approximately 4 business days and costs you nothing.

With your library account you can also renew items (as long as you do it before the item is due), as well as check what items you have out and when they are due.

If you haven't found what you need in the catalog, you can check at the reference desk for Interlibrary Loan assistance.