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. Tahani Rabah

    Hi Professor Berger! I’m tahani, and I actually am at the library quite often. My research question is “wha effect that divorce parents have on children?”

  2. Brandon Rivera

    Hello Professor Berger. My name is Brandon, my research question is How Will Robots Affect the Future of the Work Field? And I would like to know your opinion on if robots should be implemented in a library. What function could it have? Could it put back books where they should be based on a scan?

  3. Monica Berger

    hi everyone: I am not able to respond to individual posts.

    For Tahani: I’d recommend using Opposing Viewpoints and searching just two words: divorce and children. You’ll find a great overview article that will help point you to other sources and give a good understanding of your research question and how to narrow it down if you and Prof. Belli think that’s needed.

    For Brandon: Your topic is really interesting. I do recommend you consider thinking about just one type of robot or one type of work but Prof. Belli can advise you about whether or not you should narrow this down. Robots are already being used in libraries to reshelve books–try google searching this. But they are definitely very uncommon. Our library is too small for a robot to make sense but in very big libraries, they can help bring books to elevators. I don’t know much about robots in the workplace so I went to the New York Times and found a recent article that looks very worthwhile and may help you pursuing this topic.

  4. Jamani Anderson

    Hello Professor Berger My name is Jamani Anderson

    my research question is How does money affect the most important things in life such as its people and their living opportunities ? and I wanted know how I can propose from this question and the specifics behind I mean for example I explained the positive and the negative aspects behind my research question I just need advice in return.

    • Monica Berger

      HI Jamani: Your question is very philosophical and a bit difficult to translate into a search strategy. I would suggest you talk more with Prof. Belli and consider narrowing down your topic to address something specific that addresses your question, for example, how the income of a family might affect educational outcomes for students. Or you could explore topics like home ownership or health in terms of income. Once you have your topic clearly defined, I’d suggest you work with one of our reference librarians either in person in the physical library or online.

  5. Monica Berger

    hello everyone: I am attaching a handout with an exercise entitled: How to Analyze if a Source is Credible. Please consider reading the three sections. After you’ve read through them, 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!

    How to analyze if a source is credible

    • Jill Belli

      This is fantastic! Thanks Professor Berger 🙂

  6. 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).
  7. Logan Aloise

    Hello, Professor Berger it is very nice to meet you thank you for taking your time and helping all of us understand the library and research information. I will be researching about the impact that electric cars will have in the world. How do you know when your reading research and you have to bring all the information together without forcing it all into one paragraph. Basically what I am saying is how can I branch out my research to make it more enjoyable to read and flowy.

    • Monica Berger

      hi Logan: You have a great topic and interestingly, your question is related to how research and writing interact. You can’t force “all the information” into one paragraph … Take notes and think about what is most important or unique to a source. What subtopics are emerging? Do you see any pros and cons about electric cars (e.g. they may be dangerous or they will help with climate change?) Look out for those! Then you’ll eventually want to mind map your research and create a structure for it. Outlines are very useful. I use them in all my writing even at the earliest stages when I’m brainstorming.

      Part of the joy of this annotated bibliography exercise is that you get to reflect on each source and then explain it in your own words. Yes, you may need to write more than is needed and then edit yourself down. Prof. Belli can talk to you more about this.

  8. Neal Ross

    Hello Professor Berger, Thank you for taking the time to engage with our class as you have. The research topic I am working on and revising is (How a family’s opinion on sexuality effects LGBTQ+ kids mental health). Is it possible to include an interview in a research paper and if so how could that be cited.

    • Monica Berger

      hi Neal: Yes, please check in with Prof. Belli, but an interview can be a source in a research paper. My colleague created this useful guide to library resources related to gender and sexuality. As to your search strategy, you’ll find a lot of material. You may want to narrow down your topic to focus just on teens. Or just transgender youth. The more specific you are, the easier it is to do research. Although I imagine, research on the mental health of LGBTQ+ teens (or children) would have to consider parental attitudes (or family attitudes). So search the library using “LGBTQ+ or gay or homosexual” and “teens or youth” AND “parental attitude.” Academic Search Complete is always a good place to start as well as Opposing Viewpoints.

  9. Khandoker

    Good day Professor Berger, we sincerely appreciate your guidance and input on unit 2 assignment. Having the library support us for this assignment makes a lot of sense, since the library is a great source of information and one of the best places for research, which is what we will be doing. Hope you will have a pleasant time guiding and helping us on our assignment. My research topic for now is “How can video games help children’s mental development?” Could you tell me how I can better cite sources and some rules I should follow closely when doing citations?

    • Monica Berger

      hi Khandoker: A few thoughts. You might want to be more specific about what kind of video games? Just the fun ones or learning ones? The phrase “mental development” might be better as “cognitive development” or even “learning.” As to citing, please check out our guide which also has a video. MLA Style is not super hard to learn–think of it as pattern creating. Each element in the citation occurs in the same order. Maybe the hardest part of citations for freshmen is recognizing what kind of source you have. You can ask a librarian for help with that or Prof. Belli.

      • Khandoker

        Thanks for the information Professor Berger. Due to recent content I’ve watched and researched, I have had a change or heart and want to research on Ludo Narrative Dissonance.

  10. Holaly Dzakpa

    Good Morning Professor Berger, my name is Holaly and my research topic(Is the United States a racist country?) was a bit disorganized for Professor Belli. She has given me feedback and I am still actively finding a clearer research question. Is there anything I can do to make the search easier or renew my question?

    • Monica Berger

      hi Holaly: You’ll want to rethink your question is one that is not a yes/no but rather a question that begins with HOW or WHY or WHAT. I’d begin by reading the overview article on racism in Opposing Viewpoints and then move into a specific topic like, for example, affirmative action. thanks, Prof. Berger

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