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When to use Books and when to use Articles

Why Use Books?

Generally speaking, you use books when you need:

  • Historical perspective or less-than-current research on a topic
    • Example: You need information on early pioneers of pastoral counseling.
  • Survey of a topic (in other words, not research on something very specific)
    • Example: You need a book on the background of the church fathers to supplement your textbook.
  • General perspective on a topic
    • Example: You’re researching modern denominations’ views on the inerrancy of Scripture.


Why Use Journal Articles?

  • Gathering current research on a topic
    • Example: You need information on theological responses to the current AIDS crisis in Africa.
  • Specific facet/perspective of a broader topic*
    • Example: You need information on the attributes of God as explained in Exodus 20
    • Example: You need information on recent challenges to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture in the Southern Baptist Convention.


*NOTE: While an entire book may not be written about a specific topic, it might be good to search for a general book on the topic and find out if there a chapter of that book that deals with your specific need.


How Do I Locate Books or Articles?

To locate books and other physical resources in the library, you can search the library catalog on Populi. While you’re searching books, you might want to check out the page on Understanding Library Call Numbers.


To locate journal articles, please visit the Online Resources page of the library website. For theological resources, you will need to use the ATLA database. For databases in other subjects, you can apply for a free Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library card and access 30+ databases in education, psychology, current events, demography, and health.

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