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Michigan State University

African American Studies Research Guide: Tips for Graduate Students

Top Reasons for Graduate Students To Use the MSU Main Library

The MSU Libraries exist to support your research activities, both in locating and using information AND in supplying spaces and equipment for doing your work. At MSU, the Main Library is the place for locating African American Studies resources. While the libraries have been collecting print materials for over 150 years, we currently spend approximately 70% of our budget on Internet-accessible materials; these items are almost always available from any Internet computer in the Main Library or any of the branches. You can also access them from your wireless laptop, on or off campus, as long as you remember your MSU NetID and password.

1. A designated librarian to assist you with your African American Studies research: Erik Ponder. (If you are interested in Africana, you may contact Erik or our other Africana Librarian : Jessica Achberger.)

2. A Research Guide designed specifically for African American Studies. Check out  Other course, getting started, and research guides can be located at

3. Finding lists of articles from scholarly journals. Try the resources listed under the finding articles tab of the African American Studies Research Guide mentioned in number 2. The MSU Library also offers a new search interface called SearchPlus designed to pull together a sampling of resources (including books and journal articles) from a wide range of sources.  It is not exhaustive; at most it will retrieve 200 results from various searches.  However, note that you can select facets on the left side to refine your search.   And if you are totally dedicated to Google, at least use Google Scholar  since it tries to link you to all the full text resources our library pays for. For more information consult  How do I access MSU Library resources when using Google Scholar? available under Off Campus Resources.

4. BrowZine is a free tablet application from Third Iron that allows users to browse, read, and monitor journals available through the MSU Libraries. Create your own bookshelf of your favorite race or ethnic studies journals, read articles at your own convenience, get alerts when new issues are released, share links with others, etc. Also see How to Use BrowZine.

5. Finding Full Text Theses and Dissertations. The MSU Libraries has always made a point of collecting all MSU master’s theses and doctoral dissertations that are available. Some of you may want to use our library catalog to identify historical print and microfilm copies. However, the MSU Library now provides electronic access to not only MSU master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, but also for thousands of other colleges and universities collected by ProQuest since around 1997 or so. Some electronic theses and dissertations are available before that date, but that depends on the particular school and whether they supply a copy to ProQuest. Abstracts identifying older theses and dissertations back to 1861 are also listed. Check out ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

6. Data and Data Services. We subscribe to a number of data services providing downloadable and mapable data from the government, international, and private sources. Our Data Services unit can help you track down the data you need and also provide assistance for data generated by grant projects. 

7. Quick Interlibrary Loan / Document Delivery. The MSU Libraries participates in numerous cooperative ventures for obtaining articles and other resources not owned by MSU. Check out the Request Non-MSU Materials web page for a list of options. There is no additional cost for requesting items not held by the MSU Libraries; your tuition dollars help subsidize this service.

8. Need an article from a print journal or a chapter from a print book? Graduate students can also request that articles or chapters from print items in the Main Library be scanned and forwarded to their library accounts! For more information, check out MARS (the MSU Article Retrieval System).  Note: this service usually takes two to three working days (Monday-Friday).

9. Citation Assistance and Management. In addition to providing a page on creating citations – check  - the library offers workshops on EndNote, EndNote Web, and Zotero. Check

10. Support for distance learning, connection snafus, Angel and D2L troubles. The Libraries Distance Learning Services picks up the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you through your campus connection and D2L problems. Call 517-353-8700 or 800-500-1554 or send an e-mail to For more information, check out the

11. Special equipment. 500 computer lab-type computers all loaded with standard software. Building-wide wireless connections. Lockers are also set aside for graduate students. Ask at the Circulation Desk for more information.

12. Hollander MaekCentral on 2-West where you can purchase basic office supplies, make copies, scan items, print posters, and print books on demand.  Other special equipment includes an Espresso Book Machine and a 3D Printer.

13. Collaborative Technology Labs where you can work together on group projects with access to a variety of online tools, such as computers, smartboards, video cameras.  Click here for more information.

14. Numerous study carrels are located throughout the building. If you want a quiet space, try the East side. 

15. The Digital and Multimedia Center offers thousands of DVDs, VHS tapes, and voice recordings; most can be checked out for a week if not reserved for a class. The library has also started providing access to Streaming Video. Check out Ethnographic Video Online and the Filmakers Library Online for example.

16. MSU Map Library. Located on 3 West. The Map Librarian, Kathleen Weessies, can help you with your spatial resource needs.  We have also recently hired a GIS Librarian, Amanda Tickner,  to provide additional assistance.

17. The MSU Writing Center offers a satellite location in the Main Library. The WC assists with your writing, editing, grammar, citing references, and more. Open from 3:00 p.m.- 10:00 p.m. Sundays - Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters. Requires an appointment. Check

18. Open 24/7. Well almost. Check our hours info to find out when the library is closed (Labor Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Saturday and Sunday mornings, etc.) See

19. A Cybercafe. Where else can one find something quick to drink or eat while studying in the Main Library?

20. Feel like you’ve been oriented to death? Our “Ask a Librarian” web page will provide numerous options, from web chat, to instant messaging, to email, to phone, to making appointments with subject librarians, and listing hours when our reference desk and other service points are open for business.


Subject Guide

Erik Ponder's picture
Erik Ponder
African Studies Librarian
MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Dr. (E 224B)
East Lansing, MI 48824
Michigan State University