Library FAQs

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1. How can I get help with research questions?

You can use the Ask-A-Librarian chat service, book a consultaton, or contact a subject librarian. You can also browse our online research guides.

2. How do I cite an article?

Please see our citation page.

3. How do I find a database?

You can access the databases from the Libraries' home page. Once you click on "Databases," you will be able to search by title, by subject, or by type.

If you have trouble deciding which database best fits your need, please use our Ask-A-Librarian service for assistance. The Libraries staff can also assist you with using any particular database.

4. How do I find articles in journals?

In a hurry? Use keywords in the uSearch tab to search on the Libraries home page.

  • uSearch searches a majority of the Libraries electronic and print journals
  • You can limit your search to articles from specific types of publications such as scholarly journals

Need better results? Find a database for your subject by using the Research Guides.

5. How do I find audio recordings?

Audio recordings, including CDs, vinyl records (LPs) and audiocassettes, are stored behind the circulation desk at Weeks Music Library. To check out these items, you must provide library staff with a call number.

You can search for recordings by using the “CD/DVD” link at the top of the main Library website. For best results, you can also use the catalog’s Advanced search to combine composers, titles, performers, and other information. For tips on how to search the catalog for recordings, click here.

6. How do I find books?

The Library Catalog lists all of our print, online, and recorded books as well as other materials. It does not contain materials in the Law or Medical Libraries; for those, you must use their separate catalogs.

In the Library Catalog, you can do a Title search if you know the exact name of the book. If you're not sure of the exact title, use Keyword.

If you want books by a particular person, use the Author search. Type in their last name first! If you want to see books that other people have written about an author, such as William Shakespeare, then you would put Shakespeare in as a Subject.

Subject searches can be tricky because the Libraries use a strict, formal set of subject terms. If your Subject search does not find the material that you want, try Keyword.

7. How do I find dissertations and theses?

Many dissertations and theses completed at UM  since 1961 are available online through the UM Scholarly Repository.

Print copies of all UM dissertations and theses from 1943 to 2008 are available through the Libraries catalog but they are not stored on public shelves. You must find the record for the title that you want and then click on the Request button.

In the catalog, do a Title search if you know the exact name of the paper that you want. If you are not sure, use the Keyword search.

Do an Author search if you know the writer's name. Enter it last name first; i.e., Smith, John.

If you want to find papers on your subject, do a Keyword search.  Include either the word "theses" or "dissertations" along with any words that describe your subject.

8. How do I find maps?

The Richter Library's general map collection has over 60,000 maps from around the world. It includes many different kinds of maps such as city street, country, geologic, and topographic maps. Most of the maps are less than 100 years old but we do collect modern reproductions of older maps, especially city maps.

The maps are not self-service. You must ask for assistance at the Research Desk on the first floor.

Most of the maps can be borrowed by UM faculty, staff, and students.

Nearly all of the maps are listed in the catalog. The best way to find them is to do a Keyword search using the word "maps" and the name of the place you are interested in such as "Florida" or "London."

Additional historical maps can be found in Special Collections.

The Library does subscribe to some map or map-related databases. Please check our list of databases by format.

9. How do I find music scores?

Music scores are located on the 2nd floor of Weeks Music Library. They are shelved using a modified version of the Library of Congress Classification System. To view a guide to the classification system, click here.

You can search for scores in the library catalog. If you know the exact title of the musical work, you can do a Title search. To search for music by a specific composer, use the Author search. For best results, use the Advanced search to combine composers, titles, keys, opus numbers, and other information. For tips on how to search the catalog for scores, click here.

10. How do I find the right librarian?

Please see the list of subject librarians.

11. How do I Troubleshoot Off-Campus Access to Library Resources?

Access to licensed electronic resources is restricted to current UM students, faculty and staff ("UM community"). Most of the Libraries' electronic resources are available without restriction from any computer workstation on campus. If you are off-campus, access to licensed electronic resources will require confirmation of your University status.

Most resources can be accessed off-campus using your CaneID information. This is the same username and password used to access your MyUM/CaneLink account. You can find more information about the CaneID, including what to do if you forget your username and/or password, at the CaneID home page.

Once you have clicked on an e-resource link, you will be brought to the CaneID authentication screen. Enter your CaneID username and password, then click Login.  The system will verify that you have access to the UM electronic resources, then pass you directly to the e-resource.

NOTICE: These materials may be protected by Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Fair Use Provisions of the Copyright Law [section 107] and licensing agreements for the use of the Libraries' electronic resources prohibit the systematic downloading and retention of substantial portions of a given volume or resource. Please consult our Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources Policy for general use guidelines.

Troubleshooting Remote Access Checklist

  1. Do you have a valid CaneID username and password?

    Make sure you are using the same username and password you use to access your MyUM/CaneLink account. If you are a new student, faculty, or staff member it can take several days or weeks for your credentials to be fully processed by the University's Central IT Division. Please contact Ask-A-Librarian if you think your CaneID account should be working.

    Remote access to licensed library resources varies according to your affiliation with the University. Please consult the Access & Borrowing Privileges page to determine whether you qualify for remote access.

  2. Are you having problems with all electronic resources, or just a specific resource?

    Sometimes there are problems with a specific vendor or resource. Try to connecting to several other licensed resources to see if you have a problem to connecting to everything, or just a specific resource.

  3. Are you on the Medical Campus?

    The Calder Medical Library separately licenses resources from EBSCO, including PsychINFO and CINHAL. If you are connecting from a computer on the Medical Campus, you will need to use the resource links found on the Calder Library Databases page, rather than link on the UM Libraries page. If you are connecting from off-campus, links from the UM Libraries page should work for Medical Campus personnel, providing you have a valid UM CaneID account.

  4. What internet browser are your using?  Are Cookies enabled?

    Make sure the Cookies and JavaScript are enabled in your browser, as most resources require these in order to connect and utilize the various search services. Try connecting with a different browser, e.g. try using IE, if you have problems with Firefox. Sometimes certain forms, scripts, or services have difficulty working properly in one browser or another.

  5. Are you behind a firewall?

    If you are behind a non-UM firewall, make sure it is configured to allow access to the Libraries' proxy server (, in order to allow proper authentication through the University's CaneID service.


Report A Problem with Remote Access

If you are experiencing any problems connecting to library resources, please visit our Ask a Librarian webpage

Contact the Calder Medical Library or Law Library directly if you are experiencing any difficulty accessing materials via their web pages.

12. Tell me more about Journal Rankings and Impact Factors.

Use Journal Citation Reports.

ISI Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is a multidisciplinary database that presents statistical data useful for determining the relative importance of journals within 224 predefined subject categories.
JCR enables researchers to:

  • Find the highest-impact journals
  • Find the most cited journals in a subject field
  • Identify subject review journals
  • Analyze journal citation trends

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