Skip to Main Content
Skip to content

Library Sources, Credibility & Finding the Good Stuff: Introduction to UI Libraries

Finding credible resources through library databases and evaluating the quality of information you find anywhere.


First off, welcome to The University of Iowa Library! We're glad you're here! 

On this page you'll learn more about different tools and resources of the UI Libraries, including how to get in touch with a librarian in your subject or research area!

Remember to ask for help!

You DO NOT have to, nor should you go it alone when you are working on a research project. Talking with your peers, your professors, and your librarians is not only acceptable, it is encouraged. Asking for assistance in defining or developing your research question or topic, choosing keywords, locating articles and books, synthesizing research, and even formulating your arguments is a good strategy and many of our most successful students seek assistance with some or all of these steps during their research projects. 

How to contact us for help!

There are a lot of us librarians here at The University of Iowa Libraries. And there are perhaps two important things you should know about us: 

1. We're here to help you with your work. 

​*TRY THIS: Check out all the ways you can contact us

2. Librarians have a Master's of Library and Information Science (MLIS), some have a second graduate degree and/or subject specialties that allow us to provide focused support to students doing research within their major or in major-specific coursework. 

TRY THIS: Even if you don't yet have a major (btw - that's totally ok and in fact many of us who graduated changed majors multiple times along the way), check out the Library Subject Guides.These guides were created by our subject specialist librarians and contain lists of databases, resources, and other information relevant and specific to different courses and majors. These guides also have contact information for the subject librarians who created the guide. Find your subject librarian here: Subject Specialists.

TRY THIS. Check out our team of three (3!) Undergraduate Engagement Librarians dedicated to supporting you, our undergraduate students.  We work in The SEAM in the Main Library and would love to help out.

Useful things to know about the UI Libraries

#1) We have more books than you had in high school. Full stop. 

Amongst The University of Iowa of Libraries 8 campus libraries you will find more than 5 million volumes! And we also have DVDs, technology, music, and even high tech tools located across all 8 campus libraries. If you need to or want to check out anything physical, like a book, a DVD, or locate course reserve materials you'll need to locate the item in InfoHawk+. Check out the 'Finding Books' tab at the top of this guide for more information. 

#2) We have over 1,000 databases!

UI Libraries subscribe to over 1,000 databases to provide you with free access to the scholarly and popular resources required by your instructors and important when conducting college-level research. Note: You will not find these articles (for free) with a simple Google search.

Check out the 'Findings Articles' tab on this guide for a list of databases commonly used by undergraduates to conduct research. 

PRO TIP: If you want to find databases relevant to specific majors or major coursework, look for the databases listed on a relevant subject guides -- this can help guide and narrow your search! 

#3) There are EIGHT UI Libraries you can visit, explore, and borrow from!

We have the Main Library and 7 other branch libraries.

  • Hardin Library for Health Sciences: Located next to the UI Hospitals and Clinics, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences serves the Colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Pomerantz Business Library: Located in the PappaJohn Business Building, the Business Building serves the College of Business, Business majors and Business Administration faculty. They can help with market and company research and help find research for business plans and reports. 
  • Engineering Library: Serves the College of Engineering and helps students and faculty in the Seamen's Center. The Engineering Library has a tool library and a Creative Space with tinkering equipment to design projects that all students can use. 
  • Sciences Library: Houses resources for the subjects of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, astronomy, and other sciences.  
  • Music Library: The Music Library is located in the Voxman Music Building and houses musical scores, music studies books and materials, as well as records, CDs, and more! 
  • Art Library: The Art Library is located in the Art Building West (ABW) and houses materials in Art and Art studies. A great study space that overlooks a pond with beautiful views. 
  • Law Library: The Law Library is separate from the UI Libraries. The Law Library serves mainly pre-Law and Law students, however you can still study there, as well browse and borrow select materials. Some materials are strictly only for Law students. 

What is the SEAM? Check it out.

Definitions and Terms of Library Resources

What is the difference between an article and a journal? What's a catalog or a database?

Below is a list* that can help you understand the different terms and resources you may encounter when using the library. 

Database A searchable collection of information sources. The library has many databases. Some databases contain only articles. Others contain other types of information, such as data, images, and videos. 

Catalog The library's database of books. Our book collection includes print books and e-books. You can find specific books by searching for an author or title, or find books on a topic by searching with keywords. (Here at U of Iowa, this is called InfoHawk+)
Scholarly Source A piece of information written by someone with academic expertise, such as journal articles and some books. Many scholarly sources are peer-reviewed. Scholarly sources are great places to look for in-depth analysis, theory, and empirical evidence. 
Peer Review An editorial process used by scholarly journals and academic book publishers. When an author submits an article or book, independent experts in their field review the work, then notify the editor of whether or not they think it should be published.
Popular Source A popular source is a piece of information written by a journalist for the general public, such as a magazine or newspaper article. Popular sources provide background information, real-world examples, and describe new developments in different topic areas. 
Journal Article A type of scholarly source. Journal articles can be found in many databases the library subscribes to. They are often available to download as a PDF file. 
Website A source format that can be found using a Google search. Websites include all kinds of information source content, such as news, online stores, government information, entertainment, personal blogs, social media sites, etc. 
Call number A unique string of letters and numbers that represents the location of a print book in the library. You can find a library book's call number in InfoHawk+.

Permalink A permanent or static hyperlink assigned to a journal article or other digital resource, also called a stable link or document URL. Permalinks are used by databases to help users navigate back to an article or ebook.