Once you have collected some general background information related to your research idea using encyclopedias and other reference sources, you should begin searching the Classic Catalog for related books.
Books are a great resource for a more in-depth look at your research idea. They may also provide more specific information relating to your subject such as, historical perspectives, collections of previously completed writings/research, and/or differing opinions on the subject matter.
To find the locations and call numbers of over four million books (as well as hundreds of video, audio, map, and rare titles) owned by the Washington University Libraries, use the Classic Catalog.
You might be familiar with the Dewey Decimal Classification from grade school or the public library. At WUSTL, and at many academic libraries in the United States, we use an organization system developed by the Library of Congress. This system works to organize materials by subject.
For more information on this organization schema, please see the Library of Congress Classification Outline.
Here is a hypothetical shelf of books with the call numbers explained: