Books are excellent sources for information such as:
- Broad overview of a complex topic
- In-depth information
- Background and contextual information, such as the history and chronology of a given topic
- Discovering resources through bibliographies and suggested readings lists
"But I don't have time to read a whole book!"
It's ok, you don't have to read a book cover to cover! To determine how useful a book might be, first skim through the following parts:
- Title Page - look at authors (credentials?), date of publication
- Table of Contents - look at chapter titles to get an idea what the book is really about. Are any chapters relevant to your topic? You usually don't need to read every chapter, just those that are relevant!
- Index - Look for specific terms relevant to your topic, also note any potential new terms that can be used later as search terms in a database
- Preface/Forward/Introduction - usually highlights the author's purpose/intention for writing the book
- Bibliography (either at the end of each chapter or end of the book) - find additional resources!
Where to start?
WPI Library Search
Use WPI Library Search by typing in your search terms, and in the results list, look at the filters on the left side of the page. There, you can easily narrow down your results by 'Resource Types' to find only books or book chapters.
- MIT Press Direct Ebooks Collection
Access to 3000+ ebook titles from MIT Press. Key subject areas covered in the complete collection include art and architecture, biomedical sciences, business and finance, computer science, cognitive science, design, education, environment, game studies, humanities, information science, linguistics, neuroscience, new media, philosophy, and social sciences.