Go to the library's home page at lib.msu.edu and look for the SearchPlus box. Type keywords on your topic.
You'll get a huge number of hits. Use the filters on the left for different ways to narrow your search.
To start by getting background info (as demonstrated in class) you need to limit the Content Type to Reference. To do that, you need to expand the Content Type list by clicking More.
Now that I've limited my Content Type to Reference, the results point to subject encyclopedias, which will have good background info (and will often list further books and articles.)