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Florida's Waterways: Home

Sources that highlight the balance between growth in Florida and the impact on Florida's environment

Getting Started at the UF Library

  1. Set up the UF VPN: When you're off campus, you will need to use the UF VPN software to access electronic databases, journals and books.
  2. Search the library catalog for books or journal titles: Links to online books and journals are also contained within the catalog.
  3. Search databases to find articles in journals: If you are trying to decide which database is appropriate for your research, look at the list of databases listed on the Journal Articles tab above.
  4. Check your account status or renew material. You can renew your books and check your library account online.
  5. Create an Interlibrary Loan account. This will allow you to place requests for books and journal articles not owned by the UF Libraries. The ILL office will contact other borrowing libraries around the world to request your book or article. Journal articles are normally sent electronically.
  6. More questions? Visit the George A. Smathers Libraries' How do I...? page. Here you will find online tutorials on library services, conducting research, database searching, and much more. 

Getting Started at Special Collections

The Special Collections library at the University of Florida is on the second floor of Smathers Library East, with the reference desk in the beautiful Grand Reading Room.  On your first visit, you will be asked to complete a short registration form and review the policies of the room and use of the materials - .  We recommend that you email us at a week before you come to use our collections, so that we can retrieve materials from off-site shelving, preservation, and digitization facilities.  

You can search our library catalog and our digital collections site from any computer.  You can also search our finding aids, or inventories, of manuscript and archives collections, so that you know what boxes of materials you'd like to see.  Our primary sources on the Everglades and the Cross Florida Canal have links to the finding aids of the collections listed.

Finding Aids: A finding aid is a text document providing a description of the contents of a collection, just like a table of contents outlines the contents of a book. By using a finding aid, a researcher gets an understanding of a collection in its entirety, sees the relationships between its component parts, and locates the portions of a collection pertinent to research. Finding aids sometimes provide narrative portions describing the background of a collection (how and when it was formed, how the archives acquired it, etc.), and how the archival staff has arranged or ordered the materials in the collection. 

Definitions of Sources

Primary sources are the evidence of history, original records or objects created by participants or observers at the time historical events occurred or even well after events, as in memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include but are not limited to: letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, maps, speeches, interviews, documents produced by government agencies, photographs, audio or video recordings, born-digital items (e.g. emails), research data, and objects or artifacts (such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons). These sources serve as the raw materials historians use to interpret and analyze the past.

Primary Sources on the Web: Finding, Evaluating, Using", American Library Association, January 12, 2015.

Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, analyze, evaluate, and summarize information of primary sources.  Secondary source materials are commonly books or articles in journals or newspapers and serve to explain and supplement the primary sources.

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