How to Use the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL)
To search for research articles in the Alabama Virtual Library, you may use the Library computers and double-click on the AVL icon. You can also refer to the green handout and use the AVL URL to access the AVL in any computer lab on any of our three campuses. If you would like to use the AVL from home, you must have a valid FSCC student ID to obtain an AVL card from the Faulkner Library. The AVL is a free service paid for by your tax dollars; it is provided through the Alabama State Legislature.
The AVL databases will provide access to articles that are valid research articles for your college classes. Do not go to the Internet and simply Google information for a college paper. You may find many, many articles, but these articles may not be valid college-level research materials.
Double-click on the AVL icon. (At home, use the information on the AVL card to log in.) You can search by subject or by a particular database. If you move the curser over the question mark next to each database, a screen will come up that tells you what type(s) of information is/are available in each database.
If you are searching for articles for your college classes, you will want to choose an academic database such as Academic Search Premier. Click on the Academic Search Premier link and type your topic in the search area. Always be sure that full-text is checked before beginning your search. Type in environment and polar bears and see how many articles are available on this topic. Do not type a question such as “How does the environment affect polar bears?” as this will not give you the information you need. Use keyword searching instead.
The most recent articles will be listed first. Notice the suggestions for narrowing down your topic such as “source type” and “subjects” on the left of the screen. Look at the article citation and note how long an article is before you print it. Be sure to read the abstract of the article so you will know what the article is about and if it applies to your research topic. Be sure to copy the citation to the article so that you will have the correct information for your works cited page when you are doing your research; invariably, you will not be able to find it later.
To search several databases at the same time, choose EBSCO; then click on “Choose Databases” and select only those databases that will lead you to the best articles in whatever subject(s) you are researching. After selecting a few databases, click on Continue. Type in your keywords (example: global warming and solar energy), make sure full-text is selected, and click on search. When possible, choose academic journals rather than magazines because magazines contain general information rather than research oriented material.
If an article is over 5 pages in length, we ask that you not print it in the Library, the LRCs, or the campus computer labs. If you want to print longer articles at home, that is up to you.
There are over 50 databases available to you in the Alabama Virtual Library. If deciding which database to use for your research is overwhelming, come to the Library and ask for assistance. Instructors are encouraged to bring their classes to the Library for a subject or assignment specific orientation as we are not staffed to provide individual orientations.