How to Do Library Research

This set of pages has information on how to do library research. In all cases, once you have located sources, be sure to evaluate them, using the evaluation guides.

General Sources

Electronic databases may be searched by CSU affiliates. They are also listed on the  A-Z Databases page.

Academic Search Premier. Dates of coverage vary by title; some titles start in 1965. Updated 6 times a year.

From the initial search screen you can select document type book review:  For books with words in the title that appear multiple places, it will be important to select the subject with the precise title (see example just below) in order to eliminate entries that review other books.


Search the title of book and book review in default fields ("Select a Field (optional)"). Search results will sometimes include title of book (BOOK) or title of book (Book Review), but is not consistent. Subject field (in full record) will often, but not always have Title (Book).


Results may include other titles, if the person or topic appears more than once, so select the exact match (left hand side under subject):

Selecting  is the equivalent of doing a search for: DE "JOHN Adams (Book)" in the search box. It is probably fastest to do an initial search with the title and book review, because guessing the proper search term might not work if there is any variation in which the titles is listed. For example, DE "TIME Traveler's Wife, The (Book)" is the exact search needed for this title. Another example of how a title must be exact is: DE "JULIE & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (Book)"; nevertheless, an exact title does work directly: DE "What to Expect When You're Expecting (Book)"

Book Review Digest. 1983/4- . Online database. Print 1910-1911,1917,1919,1923,1926-1928,1930,1938-1950,1952-2003/2004  Z 1219 .C96 Movable Shelves

Indexes selected reviews of both fiction and nonfiction titles from 100 American and English periodicals. Frequently includes excerpts from the reviews. Arranged by author of the book with subject and title index. Covers over 7,000 adult and children's books each year.

Book Review Index 1965-2004. Z 1035 .A1 B713 Movable Shelves

Book reviews listed by author with abbreviated citations to reviews. Reviews indexed include both fiction and non-fiction from 450 publications. Emphasis is on books in the social sciences and humanities. Includes citations to many more book reviews than Book Review Digest.

Choice. 1964-2003 . Z 1035 .A1 C42 Moveable Shelves.

Choice book reviews are concise (roughly 150-250 words), their audience librarians. Nonetheless, these reviews are useful for students and other researchers as well. Online search by title (words in title), author name, review (words in review), ISBN, or Choice Review #. Search results sorted by year the book published, each year separated by a yellow box with the year. Click on title to read review. There is an advanced search, but it is complicated and would be of interest only to researchers looking for books by subject. If you decide to use the advanced search make sure the red "search now" button is showing in the upper frame before starting your search (and read the help screens).

New York Times Book Review Index 1896-1970. PN 98 .B7 N42 Reference

Book reviews appearing in the New York Times are indexed by author, title, review byline, subject and category.

New York Times Index. 1851- . AI 21 .N44 Printed Newspaper Index (basement). 1851- (with a 3-4 year time lag) at New York Times 1851- (images from newspaper). See also NYT Digital Microfilm 2008 to recent month.

Book reviews are not identified as book reviews, so an exact title searches in the right time period would be helpful. Reviews for best sellers will be harder to find, because there might be "discussion" articles about the title--for example, Harry Potter books have multiple articles discussing release dates, etc.

Readers' Guide To Periodical Literature. 1900- . AI R48 Reference.

Book reviews are indexed under the author reviewed through 1964. Review citations are generally omitted between 1964 - February 1976. Beginning March, 1976 book reviews are listed at the end of each issue and volume.

Times (London). 1785- . AI 21 .T46 Index in Printed Newspaper Index (basement). Also online in Times Digital Archive.

Older indexes list reviews under "Books Reviewed and noticed"; more recent years under "Books (titles and reviewed)." Reviews will be on microfilm, call number AN .T5 in the Microtext area.

Washington Post Index. 1982- . AI 21 .W33 Reference shelves. Reviews will be on microfilm, call number AN .W33 in the Microtext area (lower level).

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