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Guide to library research and reliable websites on biology, including anatomy & physiology

About Books

Reference Books

Reference Books are the best places to find concise summaries and background information on a topic. Reference books cannot be checked out of the library. Some of them are available as databases or ebooks. 

Circulating Books

Circulating books (books you can check out) may also provide summaries and background information, but usually go into greater depth about a topic.

Using Books for Research

Using books for research does not always mean that you need to read the entire book.

  • Use the table of contents and the index to find where in a book information about your topic is located.

  • The introduction to a book may be a good place to find background information on the topic the book is about.
  • You should read enough of a book or chapter to understand what an author is saying and quote her correctly.
  • Sometimes chapters in books are complete works written by different authors, making them ideal for research.

Search the Classic Catalog

Search for books using St. Louis Community College's Classic Catalog.


Books: Popular or Scholarly?

Popular science books usually have the goal of explaining scientific research and science topics to a non-scientist and non-specialist audience. They may draw from many fields of science or focus on just one topic. Some books make connections between science and everyday applications, or detail incidents in the history of science.

Scholarly books on science topics are sometimes called monographs because the whole book is about one topic, as opposed to journals that contain articles about many different topics. Since books are much longer than journal articles, they are more likely to contain overviews of the state of science on a particular topic. Some scholarly books are collections of chapters by different authors, with an overall book editor.

How can I tell if the book is scholarly or popular?

  • Audience and purpose - popular books are written for a general audience. They use everyday language to educate, explain, describe, and/or entertain. Scholarly books, written for scientists and specialists,  tend to use specific scientific vocabulary. The intent is to report on original research or to give an overview of the state of research in a subject area.
  • Publisher - many scholarly books are published by university presses, or by publishers who specialize in science.
  • Authors - scholarly books will include the academic credentials of the author(s). Many of the authors are affiliated with research universities or other research institutions.

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000