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Intro to Online Gavilan

Lesson 9: Library

The Gavilan Library Collection

The Gavilan Library, besides more than 60,000 book titles in print, also has a large collection of online resources that you can and should use for your online coursework:

  • 12,000 online e-books that you can actually view online.
  • 2,500 title newspaper and periodical collection online through full-text subscription databases
  • Online encyclopedias in both English and Spanish.


Getting your library card

Before you can use any of these, you'll have to apply for a Gavilan Library card. You can come into the library at any time during their open hours. Or, if you are a registered student, currently taking classes at Gavilan, you can apply online. If you are registered for this course, you qualify for the online application. We're trying to make life as easy as possible for you.

The application is short and easy. The library staff will check to make sure you are registered, then send your card to the address you have on file in the Admissions office (the address you gave us when you registered).
If this is not your current address, you need to contact the Admissions office ( right away, and give them your new address.

Books - Physical & Virtual

You can get both real books and virtual books with your Gavilan library card. Read all about it in this tutorial. To find books on your topic,

  1. Use the Gavilan catalog to search on the key words of your topic. Use the "keyword" option on the drop-down menu of the search screen. If you know the name of an author or the title of a particular book, use those options.
Gavilan catalog search screen
  1. If the books you find are located on the main campus,

    and if you are a student at the Morgan Hill or Hollister sites, you can request that books be sent over to that campus.

    You can tell if the book is an actual book by looking on the Library Location field, boxed in red in the record above. In the order form, give them the Call Number, circled in red. And you can tell that the book is available by checking the Status field, underlined in red.

    You can also use Google Books to read the full text of books. Google's latest project is to put up a huge library of books online, available to everyone. Not every book is up there yet, but this is an incredible source of information available for you. Try it.
  1. If the book you find is an electronic book,

    you can check it out through NetLibrary, our electronic book supplier. You'll have to have an account with them (which takes about 1 minute to create), and then you'll be able to read the table of contents in the front, or the index in the back, and flip right to the pages relating to your topic.
The tutorial on finding books on your topic goes into much more detail so please read it if you want more detailed instructions.

Books are nice, but periodical articles, published in newspapers, professional journals and popular magazines, will give you much more current information. This means the current debates, theories, statistics, and opinions of your topic.

ProQuest is an online database of thousands of magazines, journals, newspapers, government bulletins, dissertations, product trials, and more kinds of publications than you ever knew existed. Use this database for:

  • magazines that you see in the dentist's office (People, Time, Newsweek),
  • academic journals (JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine),
  • and for newspapers from across the nation.

Congressional Quarterly is another database that will give you current information on controversial issues

This is a Washington D.C. publishing company that takes pride in presenting unbiased information from both sides of issues that are in the news.

You can look for your topic in the list of recent issues or use the Quick Search box on the left margin.

cq researcher logo and link

Quick Search screenshot

There are many more specialized databases in the library collection, and of course there's a tutorial on these databases that goes into much more detail.
Using the Internet for Research

The Internet has done wonders for the average person's access to information, but that information comes fast and furious and unchecked by any editor or publisher. Anyone can publish on the Internet. In order to be a good consumer of Internet resources, you have to learn how to evaluate those resources.

  • Who wrote it? Is the author an authority? Who is supporting the website? The American Tobacco Company and the American Cancer Society would have drastically different viewpoints on secondhand smoke.
  • How accurate is the information? Does anyone check it? Is it from a reliable source?
  • How objective is the information? Do the authors have a hidden agenda to sell you something?
  • How current is the information? Medical information changes all the time. You probably don't want to rely on information from 1989.
  • What is the coverage? Does the website cover all the issues of a topic? Or just one side?
The tutorial on using Internet sites for your research will explain the criteria you should think about for every site you visit, plus give you some tips on how to find reliable sites using a subject directory rather than a search engine like Google.
Your Assignment

The Gavilan Library has an incredible collection of resources for research of all kinds, from your term paper for your history class to your personal medical problems. Yet every semester we hear from online students and on-campus students that they can't find anything in this library. We need to figure out how to help researchers find the information they need. You can tell us how.

Go to our online survey and let us know what you thought of these tutorials. And most importantly, how we can make them better. And thanks very much for your help.

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Last updated on June 15, 2009