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*Africana Studies: Secondary Sources: Books

What Is a Literature Review?

See the GSU Library's research guide Literature Reviews for detailed information about researching and writing a literature review.

Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Caro Wallis

How Do I Find Secondary Sources for My Topic?

Use keyword searching in GIL-Find. Brainstorm different keywords for your topic and see what happens.

Use Boolean searching (AND, OR, NOT) to expand or narrow your searches.

When you find a relevant item, click on the record and look for subject terms. Clicking on a subject term will bring up other related items.

Try your keywords and subject terms in other databases, and see what you find!

Use the Power of Subject Searching

Books in libraries are assigned one or more subject headings. These are standardized terms that ensure books on the same topic can be found even if the keywords are different, as with The US Civil War and The War Between the States.

You can search in GIL-Find (which now lets you search all of the University System of Georgia library holdings at once -- just select "University System of Georgia" instead of "Georgia State University" in Simple Search, or in the "Search Scope" dropdown in Advanced Search) or WorldCatusing subject terms. 

  • In GILFind, use Advanced Search and select "in subject" in the dropdown box furthest to the left.
  • In WorldCat, use Advanced Search and select "Identifier: Subject" in any of the dropdown boxes. 

When you find a good book, look at its subject headings in the catalog record. Follow these to list other items on that topic. Or, use the subject heading terms in a new keyword search.

Examples might be:

  • African Americans
  • African American
  • Blacks
  • African Americans Georgia

And so on...

How to Find ebooks in GILFind

You can search for eBooks from all GSU library ebook databases in the GSU Library's GilFind catalog just as you would search for traditional print books. After you search, tweak your results to show only "full access online" and the "books" format to see only eBooks.

(Are you teaching? See a full description for embedding ebooks for course content).

Finding Electronic Books in the Era of COVID-19

The GSU Library is open.

Book checkout is available in the library. Self-service checkout machines are now available in the library.

You can also arrange for curbside pickup of books and other materials (DVDs, etc.) from GSU Libraries.
Click here for information about arranging for a pickup.

GIL Express and Interlibrary Loan of print books are available.

Here are some strategies that you can use to find and access ebooks.

Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions about finding electronic versions of texts!

Help! I've found an ebook in the library's catalog and I'm not sure how to download it!

Different providers (i.e. ProQuest, EBSCO, etc.) have different requirements. Check out our Ebooks research guide for information about how to read/download ebooks.

What if I just need a chapter or essay from a particular book?

If the book is available as an ebook, you may have the option of printing just that chapter or section.

If the book is only available to you as a print book, you can use our Desktop Delivery service to have the chapter/section scanned and emailed to you through our Interlibrary Loan service. Click here for more information about how to get started.

Not Finding an Ebook Version?

If you're not finding an ebook using one of the above sources, you still have some options:

  • Contact your Subject Librarian to see if it's possible to order an ebook. (Find your Subject Librarian by locating your school/department here).
  • Check the book's publisher's website to see if they are making their books available online as an emergency measure. (For example, Johns Hopkins University Press temporarily made its ebooks freely available through the Project Muse database, which GSU affiliates can access).
  • If you know that you only need a section of a book, you can place an Interlibrary Loan request for that section. You will need full citation information for the book and the page range that you are requesting. (Don't know the page information? Check Google Books to see if you can see the book's table of contents. Amazon might also provide this information).

In a Pinch... Book Reviews

In a pinch, you can also search in our databases for book reviews to get a general sense of the book's argument, even if you can't access the book itself.

  • Our Book Reviews research guide gives information about general book reviews
  • Subject databases (like America: History and Life, or other databases focusing on particular subject areas) will often have an option in their Advanced Search to limit your search to "Book Reviews" or "Reviews." Check under "Document Type" or "Publication Type" to find that option.

Search Other Library Catalogs

Start with our catalog at GILFind.

If GSU's library doesn't have what you need, you have, don't give up. There are several options to get the book you want:

University System of Georgia Libraries - You can check out books from any other University System of Georgia library with your Panthercard. You can also place a GIL Express request to have a book from another USG school (or from another GSU campus) be sent to a GSU campus. (Please note that you cannot borrow ebooks from other USG Libraries, or from any other university libraries).

Emory - you can also borrow materials at Emory with your Panther Card. For current information about Emory University Libraries' print borrowing availability, consult their library directly. 

ARCHE - you can also borrow books from several local private colleges. Click here for a list of ARCHE schools. You may want to contact the library in advance to get further information about borrowing privileges (what kind of ID is needed, how long you can check out a book for, and so on). For current information about an ARCHE school's print borrowing availability, contact that school's library directly. 

Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library Catalog - GSU students & faculty may obtain library cards from the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library, then borrow materials. For current information about print checkouts from Fulton County Library branches, consult the AFPLS site directly. 


Use Interlibrary Loan to request books you find in WorldCat (below)
(or any other library catalog):