Syracuse University

Locate hard-to-find resources with a quick, precise search

Students using computers in Syracuse University Libraries' Learning Commons
Photo by Stephen Sartori

"FirstSearch is really the prime way to identify what's out there. There are other ways, but nothing is as powerful. You can find citations in databases, in printed bibliographies, and in references within books and articles. But FirstSearch is the primary way to just identify material that exists. How else would you even know it exists to ask for it?"

Lydia W. Wasylenko
Former Librarian, University Libraries Department for Research & Scholarship, Syracuse University

Gladys McCormick, Syracuse University Associate Professor of History and Jay & Debe Moskowitz Endowed Chair in Mexico-U.S. Relations, has studied the history of torture in Mexico since 1970. "Oftentimes," she said, "the sources can be very tricky to locate. Many haven't risen to the level of significance that would put it in a special collection." But through Syracuse University Libraries, Gladys uses FirstSearch® as her "go-to" resource. "One of the things I like about FirstSearch," she said, "is that documents that were published in the 1970s and 1980s, which haven't necessarily become de rigueur historical documents, I'm able to get my hands on them anyway."

Lydia Wasylenko, former Librarian in the University Libraries Department for Research & Scholarship, worked closely with Gladys and her students to help them locate the hard-to-find information they need. "We tell our students—especially those of the upper division level—that if they're going to be doing serious research, they're going to have to go beyond what our library owns," Lydia explained. "FirstSearch helps them identify what's out there, where it is, and how they can get their hands on it."

Both Lydia and Gladys appreciated that they can search based on the language of the item in FirstSearch. As Lydia noted, "So much of the material they need is in Spanish, and some of the students read Spanish, but not all. It is really helpful to be able to limit by language." Gladys added, "I love the features at the top of the FirstSearch interface that not only allow me to dictate language, but also the types of sources. Especially since I do more contemporary history, a lot of the documents will be in video or other non-traditional formats." This precision searching, she said, "makes my life a lot easier. I can just click and go."

"FirstSearch gives me quick access to both secondary material and primary documents from libraries all over in a one-stop shop."

Gladys McCormick, Associate Professor of History and Jay & Debe Moskowitz Endowed Chair in Mexico-U.S. Relations, Syracuse University

"I love how FirstSearch integrates with the library's collections as well as everything else," Gladys said. Lydia added, "When we do a search, we get a sense of the body of literature on the topic. It may be that our local holdings are not strong, but we can verify that right away." And when Gladys or the students locate resources in another library, they know they can easily request interlibrary loan with a click of a button. "Every once in a while, I'll find things that there's only one or two of in the entire world," Gladys said. "And it's very clear to me that I can just push that button if I need to interlibrary loan it."

When Gladys talks to her students about doing research, she said, "I tout FirstSearch as being the go-to place above the other databases they may be familiar with, which only have more traditional resources." Lydia noted that FirstSearch is helpful to all researchers. "This library subscribes to nearly 600 databases," she explained, "but on a course guide, I would just select 10 to 12 that are particularly relevant. I always include FirstSearch, always. Because it's relevant to everybody."

Map showing location of Syracuse University

Libraries at a glance

  • Provide access to more than 4.5 million titles, including nearly 200,000 journals and 15,000 films, across three locations
  • Support a student entrepreneurship hub, The Blackstone LaunchPad, in the Bird Library
  • Have significant holdings related to local historical figure L. Frank Baum as well as digital collections on the Oneida community, dime novel covers, and medieval manuscripts

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