DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Feb 12 2008

Library Basics: Finding Biographies

by Chris S

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It’s Black History Month, when students everywhere are suddenly needing to know details about the lives of scientists, inventors, politicians, civil rights leaders, other notables.  Lucky for you, the library is your first stop for biographies and between our books and our databases, we have about everything you would need for a book report or other project about people’s lives.

Okay, first let’s talk about books.  All of our branches have biography sections, both in the juvenile and adult sections of the library.  They’re arranged by the subject’s last name (as opposed to the author’s name or anything else), which means that if you’re looking for a book about the late civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, you would look under “Rustin.”

The biography section, though, as nice as it is that we separate those out for you, is not the only section to look for books about notable figures.  You can also look under the Dewey Decimal number that covers the subject related to your famous person (say, baseball – 796.357, science – 500s, or journalism – 070s, for example).  You can also check our biographical dictionaries or other reference books that cover biography, history, or other subjects.

Our online databases, though, are where you procrastinators can thrive!  With your library card and PIN number (and a computer with an internet connection), you have access to these 24/7.  Try out the African American Experience, which covers an incredible amount of information, and the Biography Resource Center, which gives you enough information to get you through your paper.  Oh, and here’s the best news for students whose teachers ban internet sources:  these databases count as books.  Most of them are the actual text from many of the print resources we have on the shelves.

As always, knowing what your library has and how to get to it is the key to having the best resources around.  During this month of celebration, remembrance, study, find a way to make your local library a part of the experience.

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