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An Introduction to Library Research

How to get started with library research, including key terms, resources, and tactics for conducting your searching and learning.

Getting Started at the Library


Here you will find information about how to get started with research, whether you are a seasoned scholar or brand new to the process.

But first, what is a Library?

Libraries can be defined in many different ways, as demonstrated by the quote below. The Gottesman Libraries specifically are the main form of support for information collection, retrieval, and development at Teachers College. We are housed in Russell Hall and our library began with our physical research collection which can be found in the stacks (definition below) on each floor. Now, we maintain many different physical and digital resources, provide physical spaces for study, host educational and entertaining events, and much more. Think of the library as the hub of information at TC. Below you will find key terms associated with Libraries, definitions are drawn from the Multilingual Glossary for Today's Library Users by the Instruction Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) unless otherwise noted.

"The word 'library' seems to be used in so many different aspects now, from the brick-and-mortar public library to the digital library. Public libraries—and indeed, all libraries--are changing and dynamic places where librarians help people find the best source of information whether it's a book, a web site, or database entry." - American Library Association Library Definition



Key Terms

Screenshot of the Educat+ home page with search bar

Library Catalog

"A database (either online or on paper cards) listing and describing the books, journals, government documents, audiovisual and other materials held by a library. Various search terms allow you to look for items in the catalog."

Educat+ is Gottesman Libraries online catalog that can be searched from our website.

View of corridor between two stacks of books


"Shelves in the library where materials—typically books—are stored. Books in the stacks are normally arranged by call number. May be referred to as 'book stacks.'"


A collection of information stored in an electronic format that can be searched by a computer.


Typically databases in libraries contain searchable information resources, including journal articles, books, images, etc. The A-Z Database List on our website includes all databases you have access to through Teachers College.

Peer Review

Peer review is a process by which editors have experts in a field review books or articles submitted for publication by the experts’ peers. Peer review helps to ensure the quality of an information source. A peer-reviewed journal is also called a refereed journal or scholarly journal.


1. A space which houses historical or public records. 2. The historical or public records themselves, which are generally non-circulating materials such as collections of personal papers, rare books, ephemera, etc.

The Gottesman Libraries Archive contains collections on the history of Teachers College, Faculty papers, and more.


An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, biannually). Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals. Also called a serial publication.

Cover of the trade journal Popular Aviation

Trade Journal

A trade journal is a serial publication with a target audience of people within a specific trade or industry. These may also be called trade magazines or trade papers. The example in the photo is a popular trade magazine in the aviation industry. Image from Wikimedia in public domain.