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FYSE: 1535 Literary Borders


This guide is aimed to help you with your research for Literary Borders. It will include information on how to find information as well as how to access it when you are off campus.

This guide was created by the librarians assigned to your class, Leanne Galletly (go/leanne). Please reach out with any questions about finding or accessing information this semester. You will see contact information at the bottom left of each page.

Reasons to contact a librarian:

  • Help finding relevant sources
  • Help citing those sources
  • Research tips and tricks

Library Resources

The library curates hundreds of thousands of resources for our community. We encourage students, faculty, and staff to use our platforms because we think they will help you find the most trustworthy and relevant materials.

Middlebury Research Starting Points


LibrarySearch is our version of Google. It's a search engine with that will return all of the materials the library provides access to. It's a great place to start your research and a good way to be confident that you will have access* to the resources you find. Once you have some leads on topics and sources, you may want to search in a specific database instead of LibrarySearch.


MIDCAT is the library catalog and it is useful to find physical items in the library, such as: books, DVDs, magazine, newspapers, cameras, laptops, etc. MIDCAT can also be used to find e-books when you are off campus.

  • MIDCAT is best used when you know what you're looking for and can search for a title, author, or subject


A database is an online, searchable collection of publications that can include journals, magazines, newspapers, ebooks, images, and reference sources. Databases can include citations of the publications they index, the entire full-text publication, or both. Some databases are general enough that you can find material from any discipline. Other databases are subject specific. Most databases you find through Middlebury Libraries are scholarly and have publications that are not available for free elsewhere online.

(See Articles tab of this guide to start searching relevant databases)

Research Tips

Search Process

  • Start broad, use generic keywords to learn more about your topic
  • Sometimes resources like an Encyclopedia or Wikipedia are the perfect starting place to get to know your topic and understand what keywords to use in future searches
  • Omit filler words like a, the, this, that and do not form your search like a question. Most library search engines are not designed to understand a normal speech sentence or question the way Google can.


General Search Tips

  • Use Advanced Search, this allows you to create parameters that will give you better results
  • Try using the filters that show up on the left hand side of your search results.
  • Come up with list of possible keywords in a Google (or other) document. Paste different variations into your search and see how the results list changes. Once you find a list you like continue using one or more of those keywords in future searches


Quotation Marks

If you want to search for a specific name or phrase, try putting it in quotations, this will tell the search engine only to look for that exact word order. So searching "Heart of Darkness" will provide resources that about the book, while searching Heart of Darkness, could bring up results about the color of internal organs because the words could be taken out of context.


Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators are search functions that allow you to specify how keywords should appear in a search. You must write the operations in all caps for them to work. You can also use Boolean Operators with Google.

  • Example: cats AND dogs, cats AND domestication, dogs AND love
  • This will return all the results that have both cats and dogs in the text or as keywords
  • Great when you are trying to link two different concepts
  • Example: cats OR dogs, cats OR felines, color OR colour
  • This will return all the results that have either cats or dogs, not necessarily resources that include both, in the text or tagged as keywords
  • Great when you want to see results from similar concepts and also when there are spelling variants
  • Example: cats NOT dogs, cats NOT lions, dogs NOT wolves
  • Word order matters when using the NOT function. The search enginen will return results about cats, with no mention or reference to dogs.
  • Great when you are trying to separate concepts

Find relevant articles by looking at the Work Cited list

When you find a particularly helpful book or article, look at its work cited list to find more sources on the same topic.

Ask a Middlebury Librarian