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University of Southern Maine
Libraries & Learning

*Adult and Higher Education Guide: Adult and Higher Education

Key Resources in Education

These resources contain basic overview information that can be useful for terms and definitions when you're just beginning your research.

You can also search URSUS for subject specific encyclopedias and handbooks, many of which are accessible online! A few examples are below, but there are many more.

Important Databases to use:

The following websites are great places to find current events in higher education. You may find other sites. Be willing to share when you find them!

Searching Tips and Tricks

  • Most databases allow for searching with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).
    • Use AND to focus your search and combine different aspects of your topic
    • Use OR to broaden your search and find sources that use different words for the same concept.
    • Use NOT to omit certain terms from your results.
  • Use an asterisk (*) to truncate words if you want to search for all words with that root. For example, “environment*” would search for environment, environmental, environmentalism, etc.
  • Put quotes around a phrase that you want the database to search as a phrase, rather than as individual words.
  • Group synonyms inside parentheses using OR between each one


URSUS is the combined library catalog for the entire University of Maine system. You can search the entire system, or select University of Southern Maine Libraries in the drop-down.

Other helpful tips:

  • If you find a book that is relevant to your needs, look at the "Subject" area of the book's record. Click on a few of the subjects to find other similar books.
  • In many of the book records, you can look at the table of contents - click the link under the "Inside This Book" heading. This can help you determine if a book is right for your research.
  • If USM doesn't have a book you want, click the "Request" button at the top of the page and we can get it for you through interlibrary loan.

Most databases, as well as library catalogs, assign subjects to books and articles. A subject is a designated word or phrase that describes an idea or concept and groups all articles or books about that concept together.

  • Subjects are also variously called descriptors, controlled vocabulary, headings, or index terms.
  • To search by subject you have to know the exact subject term. Most databases that use subjects have a Thesaurus that you can use to look up subject terms. You can also do a keyword search, find a book or article that is relevant to your research, and look at the subject terms assigned to it.
  • The library catalog uses Library of Congress Subject Headings and each database has their own list of subject headings, so you have to look up subjects in each database independently.

There are many ways you can get research materials from other libraries:

  • From URSUS, use the "Request" button with the red check mark next to it at the top of an item's page.
  • From MaineCat, use the "Request This Item" button with the red check mark next to it in the middle of an item's page.
  • From WorldCat, you can widen your search to libraries worldwide using WorldCat. If you find a book you need, request it using the "Order through Illiad" link
  • From a database:
    • Select the item you want and find and click the "Link to Full Text" or "Article Linker" button (the placement on the page will vary by database).
    • If the library does not have access to the item, find and click the "Submit an Interlibrary Loan Request" link under Step 3 in the right-hand panel.

Need help? Ask us!

Education Librarian