Professor Belli | Fall 2022 | City Tech

Library & Research Resources

For this Writing Workshop, we’re fortunate to have a guest post from Professor Berger, an Instruction and Scholarly Communications Librarian here at City Tech.

As you know, Unit 2 is all about research; this week we’re moving forward with finding, evaluating, and integrating sources. I’m so grateful to Professor Berger for sharing all of this helpful information, and for her support for our course and you all throughout the research process this semester.

Please read + annotate her post & the linked resources, and then come back here and participate in our Class Discussion. Everyone should join the conversation!

To get the ball rolling, once you’ve read through everything, comment below and do these three things:

  • to say hi to Professor Berger
  • share your research question with her
  • ask a question about the library and/or doing research more generally

“Welcome to the library! The library is a welcoming place and City Tech’s librarians are very devoted to helping our students. Although this course is online, this post is an introduction to the library, virtual and in-person, and shares some highlights of what we have to offer.

I think the most important thing you can learn from this blog post is that City Tech librarians are here to help you. We teach you how to find and evaluate sources for your schoolwork, develop your topic and research question, and other related skills. Although we recommend you come to the ASK A LIBRARIAN desk and talk with us in person, we also provide a variety of online help options including 24/7 chat reference and research appointments. The chat reference is found on our homepage.

The library is located on the fourth floor of the Library Building. Here are some highlights of the physical library … In addition to books you can take home for eight weeks, the library has textbooks you can use in the library for two hours as well as calculators you can borrow for 1 or 2 days. We even have laptops, ipads, headphones, and many public computers as well. Study rooms are available for individual and group study and come with a computer. We have a large graphic novels collection under the staircase leading up to our upper floor. Lastly, we provide free scanning and students can print up to 150 pages per week.

Here’s an overview to help you with English 1101. Find quick information about the library in our student-focused Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs. On this same page, you’ll notice there is information about getting access to materials in the library. It’s easy. Just log in with your CUNY email address (the same address you use to register for classes, log into Blackboard, etc.).  

Consider the library as a resource for certain types of genres. Although you will use the Internet to find videos, songs, websites, etc., you can find additional types of genres in the library. The most common genres you can find in the library include:

  1. Books and book chapters
  2. Newspaper articles
  3. Magazine articles
  4. Scholarly journal articles aka peer reviewed journal articles

The library has tutorials and guides to help you find sources in different genres and support your assignments for this course. Our guide for English 1101 has everything you need to teach yourself how to find sources in the library, evaluate any source, and learn MLA citation.

Getting Started: Start by watching our orientation video. It can be found in the GETTING STARTED tab of the guide for English 1101. We have a four minute video about a research question in the GETTING STARTED tab as well. This video will help you begin to narrow down your research question so it isn’t too broad.

Find Books: This section of the guide helps you find ebooks. You may find a book chapter which is much shorter and may be more specific. Don’t forget that if you find an ebook through the library, you can generate a citation from the record. Interesting in finding  hard copy books? Here’s a guide.

Other useful tabsEVALUATING SOURCES helps evaluate any source whether it is on the Internet or the library. BACKGROUND RESEARCH guides you through the process of learning more about your research topic through encyclopedia articles geared to college students. We think that knowing the basic facts about your topic is essential to further research. The encyclopedia articles you find through the library are usually 3-5 pages. They also may list sources on your topic you can use for your annotated bibliography. We particularly recommend Gale Virtual Reference LibraryScholarly vs. Popular Research will explain how they are different. If you are interested in a current event, take a look at the section on how to research current events which provides links to key newspapers.

Step-by-Step Research Activity:  This is an interactive form that helps you easily find sources in the library walking you through the entire research process including getting background information and evaluation of your sources. The Step-by-Step Research Activity guides you to use Academic Search Complete which is a great all-purpose library database (collection of articles). You can also search the library’s search bar on the homepage but it is like Google. That means it is easy to use and that you get too many results.

Citation: Get help on MLA style in the final tab of the English 1101 guide. Did you know if you find a source that is based in the library, you can easily get a citation from the library search engine or the specific ebook, newspaper, magazine, or journal when you click through to the full text?

You can also email or download ebook chapters and articles from the library and get the citation with your email. Don’t forget to select MLA citation style! You can also try Zoterobib as an alternative to Easybib for generating citations to websites like YouTube.”


  1. Jasper

    Hello Professor Berger,

    Thank you for the informative post above. My research question is how and why have video game monetization changed in the last 20 years? Are we able to access the online resources from home also?

  2. Doriani

    Hello Professor Berger,

    My research question is how and why has low income communities get mostly impacted with over processed food and decrease of children brain development? Are there zoom meetings available for extra guidance? Are study rooms always available?

  3. Monica Berger

    hi Jasper: Academic Source Complete would be good to search but just search “video games” and “monetization.” And yes, you can access the online resources from home also too. Just log in with your CUNY email and password you use for Blackboard, registration, etc. when prompted.

    Hi Doriani: That’s an interesting question. You also consider researching “food deserts” which is language for communities where healthy, fresh food is unavailable. So you’d combine “food deserts” and children. You could use either Opposing Viewpoints or Academic Search Complete to run your searches.

    Are there zoom meetings available for extra guidance? Yes–see this page, Ask a Librarian | Ursula C. Schwerin Library ( Are study rooms always available? Study rooms can all get booked up when things get busy but you can make an appointment the day before you need the room. This has to be done in the library itself. Here’s a link to our policies about study rooms.

    • Monica Berger

      hi Indira: My message back to you ended up as an error message so I’m going to test this response. Thinking about how the suburbs are different from the city in general to get started. Here’s a link to a lot of content in Opposing Viewpoints. You can also think about why do people work in New York City and what kinds of work is in New York City that’s not available elsewhere. I’ll respond in a fresh message if this one goes through.

  4. Indira

    Hello Professor Berger, thanks a lot for your time and for the wonderful informative post. I really like the videos about research question and e-books, I saw also you are having a workshop tomorrow for Bibliography at 3p.m. so sad I am unable to participate, I don’t think I will meet the library any time soon but happy that the online library have a lot of things and well organized, easy to navigate and understand. My research question is Work in NJ or NY? I saw so many people that live in NJ but they prefer to work in NY. Do you think I will be able to find anything about this topic and what make these people to live in on state and travel to another state to work.

    • Monica Berger

      hi Indira: My message back to you ended up as an error message so I’m going to test this response. Thinking about how the suburbs are different from the city in general to get started. Here’s a link to a lot of content in Opposing Viewpoints. You can also think about why do people work in New York City and what kinds of work is in New York City that’s not available elsewhere. I’ll respond in a fresh message if this one goes through.

      • Monica Berger

        hi Indira: Please talk more about your research question with Prof. Belli and then once you’re clear on what you’re going to research, e.g. difference in public schools (NY vs. NJ), do reach out to a reference librarian. You can also find some useful material in the New York Times. I also thought it would be very interesting to explore why more immigrants are moving to the suburbs!

      • Indira

        Thank you for your response. I certainly will look into that link.

      • Indira

        Hello professor Berger, I am unable to open the link. Could you please send it again please, it shows as an error.

        • Jill Belli

          Professor Berger isn’t monitoring this post (& the comments) anymore, but as we discussed in my Office Hours today, you need to use your CUNY login credentials (not your City Tech emails) to access library resources off-campus. That should work 🙂

  5. Brianna Santiago

    Hello Professor Berger,

    I would like to start off and say thank you for taking the time out of your day to write the post which contained important information .And thank you for categorizing and label everything you were discussing in your post. My research question is does therapy really help the mental health disorder called depression over the years? I chose this because there’s many people even actors who go through depression and it’s more common than we think. and was wondering if that’s the correct way I should ask the question?

    • Monica Berger

      hi Brianna: Great research question. Your search terms would be “depression” and “therapy.” You can’t go wrong with Academic Source Complete or Opposing Viewpoints (this link goes the overview about depression–this will really help you!) and even the New York Times might have some articles. Once you find some sources, you can start to possibly narrow down your topic (ask Prof. Belli about this!) because you want to be clear about whether or not the patient has been given medication, what type of depression, what type of therapy. If needed, then contact a reference librarian either in person or by chat/by appointment.

  6. Lizbeth

    Hello Professor Berger,

    My research question is: How does the US education system compare to education systems of other countries like Finland and Japan? My general question about research is How do you know the article you pick is a good one? With the internet there can be false information and can’t be always trusted. 

    • Monica Berger

      hi Lizbeth. Ugh. My response to you was lost as well. I’d suggest you read this overview on education in Opposing Viewpoints. It will also guide you to lots of articles. You should also try AcademicSearch Complete. I wish there was a United Nations agency that could answer your questions but no. You can search “educational system” comparative. And, of course, talk more to Prof. Belli and then visit a reference librarian.

      visit a reference librarian.

  7. Monica Berger

    hello everyone: I am attaching a handout with an exercise entitled: How to Analyze if a Source is Credible. After you read the body of the handout, you can try analyzing one or more of your sources using the worksheet which is in MSWord so you can easily type into it. Have fun! ~Prof. Berger

    How to analyze if a source is credible

    • Jill Belli

      This is fantastic! Thanks Professor Berger 🙂

    • Brianna Santiago

      Hello ,

      Thank you so much I just opened it and it really helps .

      Sincerely , Brianna

    • briansook

      thanks for these resources it help a lot

  8. Jayleen

    Hello Professor Berger,

    Thank you for offering these resources it was very helpful to know. My research question is did the pandemic make a decline in Gen’s z mental health or were there any outside factors that contributed to its decline? I was wondering if people on social media would be credible sources like someone speaking about their own story. Thank you for your time.

    • Monica Berger

      hi Jayleen: I really love your question as it helps us think about the contextual nature of authority, an information literacy frame. What that means in plain English is how expertise or “say so” is very much dependent on the situation. Lived experience is a form of expertise.

      Professors and other researchers might approach your question using social media as the center of their research but they would also review what other researchers have found on the topic of how the pandemic has resulted in a decline of mental health for Gen Z.

      Using the voices of other Gen Z people on social media is credible because their stories are authentical and real and relevant to your question. These are primary sources and one of many approaches to your question. Please talk to Prof. Belli about whether or not you should reach out to others on social media by asking this question or if you should just find a post that you can use as one of your sources.

      Researchers use a variety of sources and understand how to interrelate them. I think part of what makes my role in teaching students about research tricky is that I think everyone knows to use to Internet but they don’t think about using the library. Good researchers use both and often start by using the Internet to more effectively search library resources. And then they may bounce back to the Internet having identified experts or organizations that are deeply connected to their research question.

      As to library resources to find sources on your question, Academic Search Complete would be fine. You can search “Gen Z” AND “pandemic” AND “mental health.” See how that goes … the word “decline” could be added but probably not needed.

  9. Jill Belli

    Hi everyone — thanks for all the great conversation here … let’s keep it going! And a HUGE thank you to Professor Berger who is so generously working with many of you individually 🙂

    Three quick things:

    • As Professor Berger’s mentioned, working with a reference librarian is the best bet for getting tailored research feedback on your individual topic.
    • In terms of how to focus / refine your research question & topic, that is something I will (continue) to help you with. As you know, I have provided detailed written feedback to every student who posted their topic, so let’s continue the conversations on individual posts (if you made revisions, I’ve also been in touch about that).
    • Professor Berger will be offering her support here (only) through this Friday afternoon (10/21).
  10. Jia Cheng Zhao

    Hello Professor Berger,

    Thank you for the post. My research question is on the impact on video games on the human brain. More specifically the impact it has on a developing child. I also hope to find answers to questions like “How much video games is the right amount, if any?”. As many of us has probably heard talks about how video games are horrible for you.

    • Monica Berger

      hi Jia: I’d suggest you avoid trying to pin down how much time per day playing games is harmful and instead consider whether or not you want to look at a certain age group and a certain kind of video game. Some video games are very enriching and educational. Answers to good research questions are complex. Opposing Viewpoints will help you read pros and cons and help you potentially narrow down your topic.

  11. briansook

    Hi Professor Berger,

    My research question is ‘how much does the United States spend on the death penalty and what crimes are harsh enough for the death Penalty.

    • Monica Berger

      hi Brian: I would suggest you discuss your questions with Prof. Belli as they are both answerable by data/facts. Good research questions are complex and more open-ended. You’ll also want to decide if you want to narrow down your topic to address the United States only. Meanwhile, check out Opposing

      Viewpoints for an overview of the topic.

  12. Mozeer_U

    Hi Professor Berger,

    Thank you for taking the time out of your day to explain to us about the library. My research question is about how social media effects people in different ways. Such as mentally and physically. I would love to learn about if there are any computer programs in library. Thank you again!

    • Monica Berger

      hi Mozeer: Your question is very, very broad may benefit from some refining on both ends of your query: what kind of social media and what people? Do check in with Prof. Belli about this question of narrowing down your question. Meanwhile, I’d explore the overview article in Opposing Viewpoints on social media to start to think about plot a path forward.

      Yes, the library has many basic computer programs including all the Microsoft programs as well as Adobe suite. Our multimedia center has even more programs. Some more specialized programs like AutoCAD are only in the labs for programs in Voorhees but we’re exploring adding more specialized programs to the library’s collection. thanks for asking about this, Prof. Berger

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