Libraries and Research: Tools for Successful Academic Writing

I recently had a student make an appointment to discuss research strategies for a class paper. She had a general idea of what topic she was interested in but was not sure where to go from there. I offered to show her around the Duke University Library website. Duke has an impressive library system, which includes nine individual libraries; the Princeton Review ranked Duke in 2011 as having the second best college library.

Students can conduct research remotely through the library website. Duke’s primary library website ( provides access to a host of searchable databases that can help a researcher get started on just about any topic. The “How Do I” page provides links for conducting research. This category covers a wide range of topics, including beginning your research, getting help with the research, learning new research tools, and citing sources. In addition to databases, Duke has access to countless e-journals. The library is also connected to other Triangle libraries through the Triangle Research Libraries Network, which helps facilitate a quick Interlibrary Loan processing time for requests.

Perhaps the most valuable resource the library provides to researchers is the librarians. Duke has a live chat feature where students can ask general questions. For more detailed guidance, researchers can schedule a research consultation or make an appointment with subject librarians. Additionally, the library offers research guides according to discipline.

Researchers should not overlook Duke’s Special Collections Library where they can meet with reference librarians and conduct primary source documents.

The research possibilities at Duke are endless, as the student who recently visited me at the Writing Studio soon realized.


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