Category Archives: Library Instruction
In this post I will direct you to the Visual Arts Library e-resources, paying particular attention to the Humanities & Sciences, and giving explicit instructions on using Academic Search Elite.
Under databases and article searching on the Library’s website (itself found in the student life section of the main SVA website) is a categorically arranged list of e-resources. Click here to go to it. As you can see below, there is a drop down for Humanities and Social Sciences as well as one for Literature. Depending on your location, once you click on a database you may be asked to login. Use your MY SVA id and password.
Academic Search Elite
One of our more powerful databases, Academic Search Elite contains full text for more than 2,100 journals, and nearly 150 journals have PDF images dating back to 1985.
The interface for Academic Search Elite is identical to many of our other databases (it is an EBSCO Host product), some of which are Humanities related. Once you master Academic Search Elite, you’ve mastered all of the databases listed below. At the top of the front page is a link that allows you to view and choose which databases you want to search:
Clicking on it brings you to this:
To find out more about each one you can click on the detailed view. Check the ones you want to search and click OK.
When you begin a search in an EBSCO host database you are presented with many searching options. One of the best ways to begin is to just type the artist, writer, or subject into the search box and click search. If you were to type in John Ashhbery, for instance, you would get a screen something like this:
A detail of the the circled area…
…shows that the search resulted in 2526 results, and that it automatically applied what they call Expanders. The Expanders searched the full text of the articles (instead of just the title and assigned subjects) and applied related words. You may feel 2526 results is a bit much to sift through. But just as there are search Expanders, there are also search Limiters. On the left sidebar of the search results there are many useful tools to help you manage the results:
A great place to start is under subject. If you were to check “Ashbery, John, 1927-“ the results would be limited to articles that have been deemed to have a sufficient amount of information about Ashbery to be assigned a subject heading, and excluded from the search results would be those articles that merely mention him. Doing that diminishes the results from 2526 to 328 (much more manageable). As you can see, you can also limit the results to specific dates and publications.
Another way to limit is to restrict the results to Full Text only. Full Text means that there is a link to a PDF or HTML version of the article, rather than just a citation that leads you to the actual print publication. You may find time restraints or location will dictate if you want to limit your results to Full Text only or not, but be aware that there are many major publications that do not offer their content digitally (Full Text), such as Artforum, and some of them which place what is called an embargo on their content, only allowing certain years to be Full Text.
Once you have expanded and/or limited the results to your liking, you are now ready to find some useful articles. Below is a sample list of results. Each entry shows you the title, the author, the type of source (academic journal, reference, review, periodical, etc.) how it is accessible (Full Text PDF, Full Text HTML), and other attributes.
If an article is Full Text and you want to go ahead and start reading it, you can click on the PDF or HTML link from the search results. However, you might find it worth your while to click on the item to enter the detail view. The detail view will give you a full citation, a list of hyper-linked subject headings, people, and keywords, and perhaps most usefully, an abstract of the article. The abstract is a succinct description of the article that could help you quickly determine if it will be useful. Many articles are quite lengthy and this short step could save you much time.
Also in the detail view is a list of tools on the right sidebar.
These same tools are also available in the Full Text view of an article. If you want to print a citation or entire article, make sure to use the print tool so that it formats correctly. The other tools are very useful as well. E-mailing citations to yourself is a good way to keep track of articles that may potentially be of use to you (and that you may forget about later if you conduct multiple sessions). As you can see, you can also download a citation or article. Another very useful tool is the Cite button, which formats the citation for a Work Cited or Bibliography page in almost any standard format.
If an article is not Full Text you will be presented with these two buttons:
Clicking the Check Library Holdings button will automatically perform a search in our catalog for the publication in which the article is published (so you can determine if we have it in our print collection). Clicking the Full-Text options button will perform a search that will let you know if there any other databases where this article is available Full-Text. It will also let you know if the article is available in the Visual Arts Library print holdings. If the article is neither in another database nor in our print collections, you can have us request the article from another library by filling out an Inter-library Loan Request. If you were to click on Full-Text Options for the above article, it would bring you to this:
As you can see the article is available on two of our other databases: Academic OneFile and JSTOR. On a future post I will explore some of our other databases. Please feel free to contact me for further assistance: email@example.com
The call number is the arcane, horizontally stacked series of number and letters on the bottom of a spine of a book:
Each row in the series indicates what the books is about, from the general at the top and growing more specific as you go down. The top row is always a letter and specifies one of the twenty-one library of congress major divisions. In this instance, N refers to Fine arts, and ND refers to painting.
The second row is always a number and is used to further define the subject. In this instance 1839 refers to water color painting (which falls in a range between 1700-2495).
The last rows are called the cutter numbers and they often indicate the author or subject (this one has one for each). The book is a monograph about Robert Vickery, which explains the V. The author of this book is Philip Eliasoph, which explains the E. 2008 is the year of publication.
There is little need to remember any of this. What you should you remember is that you find books on the shelf in the same way that they are cataloged: from general to specific. So, first you would find the ND section, then 1839 (in numerical order) then V52 within the 1839’s, and so on down the spine.
At the end of each row in the library book stacks is an end panel that shows you the range of books for each row. Do you know which one of these rows our Robert Vickery book is in?