Get to Know Your Libraries

Available Resources

This guide provides some tips, useful tools, and ideas to consider as you start to conduct research at the university level. It may feel like a lot at first, but practice will help you quickly become familiar with what you need to know. And remember, librarians are always ready to help.

While you study at UNM, you have access to a wealth of different types of resources, including:

  • Books. Print books and e-books are available to check out. You can browse the library shelves yourself or use Library Express to have a book held for you at the service desk. If you really need a book UNM doesn't own, you can also place an inter-library loan request
  • Dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and other reference material. Background information on a topic can help you decide if it is a good research area for your project or assignment. Even experienced researchers will choose to start with background information when working in an area that is new to them.
  • Newspapers and magazines. You can keep up with current events with print and digital newspapers. Historical news collections can advance your research. Several popular magazines are available to browse in the Zimmerman Learning Commons. 
  • Journals. Distinct from popular sources, scholarly journals publish the results of research in various types of articles across all disciplines.
  • Videos. You can check out DVDs from the Fine Arts & Design Library. The library also provides access to Kanopy and other streaming video collections online. 
  • Data. Find datasets to analyze in a wide array of subject areas. 
  • Unique and rare items housed in the university's archives/special collections. Students of all levels are welcome to visit the Center for Southwest Research and reach out to archivists for assistance. 
  • ... and much more!

What is a Database?

The library databases listed here are collections of journal articles (and other resources) searchable by author, title, keywords, subject indexing terms, and sometimes every word in the articles. They may contain or link to the full text of the articles, or they may only contain abstracts of the articles.

TIP:  Many times a keyword search will give sufficient results. If not, look at a few relevant article titles, abstracts, and keywords or descriptors.  They often suggest other good words to use in your search. Also look for "Find more like this" options in the database (although not all databases offer this).

Why not (just) Google?

There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with using Google, and it can be great place to start your research. But it's important to recognize that Google is just one tool in your research toolkit, and it often is not the best tool for the job. For academic research conducted at a university, Google should not be your only stop. Your best bet for locating reliable scholarly materials is to use the primary library catalog search, Worldcat Discovery, or some of the more than 450 databases to which UNM subscribes.

La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia has put together a great overview video discussing why you can't just Google.

What about Google Scholar?

Google Scholar ( searches a smaller portion of the Web with a focus on scholarly literature and academic resources from publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar searches return not only scholarly journal articles but also research reports, dissertations and theses, preprints, technical reports, patents, working papers, books, court opinions as well as things such as presentation slides, web pages, and many other document types it deems scholarly using Google's proprietary algorithm.

Like regular Google, Google Scholar is a useful tool in your research toolkit, but it's important to recognize its advantages and disadvantages. 


You most likely will get a long list of results, but you will only have free access to the text of articles that UNM Libraries have paid subscriptions for, or that are freely available. Many links may want you to pay for an article from a publisher's web site; DO NOT pay for an article before you reach out the library to see if we can locate the article for you in our collections or by borrowing it from a partner library.

Google Scholar doesn't provide a list of the journals it includes, so one is never clear as to what is being searched. Because it is so difficult to determine with 100% accuracy all that Google Scholar searches, we cannot judge the comprehensiveness or completeness of the results of a literature search that relies only on this tool.

We cannot tell how frequently items in Google Scholar are updated or how long they may stay in Google Scholar.

Searching in Google Scholar is imprecise when compared with discipline-specific databases. The Google Scholar interface is simple and easy-to-use, but it lacks filtering tools that can help you narrow down to the most useful information. Depending on what you are seeking, you may find relevant information more quickly using library databases.

The articles that have been cited most often in the bibliographies of other articles come up first. This can be helpful in identifying key articles on a topic, but note the year of publication. Older articles have had more time to garner citations. 


  • Start at
  • Click on Databases
  • Click the G database tile
  • Scroll to Google Scholar
  • Enter your Net ID and password (off campus) -- authentication will let the resources know you're a UNM user. 


Also, be sure to set your Scholar Preferences/Library Links for UNM. Watch a short video for more information.


Credit: Text adapted from the Upstate University of South Carolina Effective Searching Guide.

How to Search Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Complete is an important, multidisciplinary database. It is an excellent place to start research on a wide variety of topics. Watch the video for a quick tour of this resource.

Citation Managers

Citation managers (also known as reference managers) are tools designed to make your life as a researcher easier. Tools like Zotero, EndNote, and Mendeley can help you: 

  • Save citations of the articles you find in databases, search engines, and other sources as you search
  • Keep your citations organized in a way that makes sense to you
  • Save PDFs of articles and other resources with your citations
  • Quickly generate references lists
  • Efficiently switch to a different citation style with just a few clicks
  • Share articles and resources with colleagues
  • Create in-text citations

UNM Libraries only provides consultation support for Zotero.  However, other popular citation management tools used on campus include Mendeley and EndNote. See below for help pages on using these tools.

Other Relevant Guides