Books are excellent sources of background information on a topic, and the good news is that at the undergrad level you don't have to read the whole book! But remember, don't just skim looking for quotes and anecdotes. Read actively, and when you find a useful section, read the whole section to make sure you understand the information and its context.
Books contain authoritative topic information, such as:
Example: You are writing about a hurricane that happened this month. Books will not have information about the hurricane that just happened, but don't let that discourage you, because they will have a lot of information and data about hurricanes in general. That information can help you write the introduction to your paper, or flesh out other sections.
Your first step should be to use the library catalog to see what books the library owns that may help you get an overview of your topic.
To search the catalog, go to the library's home page and use the search box in the section titled FIND BOOKS. You have the option to search by keyword, title, author, and subject.
Another way to find books to use as background information is to explore book collections. The library has some collections of books that are specifically written to provide background information. See the linked databases below.
If the library doesn't own a book you want, you can use the Interlibrary Loan system to request it. Interlibrary loan means libraries sharing materials they own, so you are not limited by the size of a library's collection.
To use the interlibrary loan system, go to the library's home page, and click the Interlibrary Loan Request link. This form is used to request materials that you can't find in our library. Fill out the form with all the required information, submit it, and the library will request the materials from another library. You will get an email with the materials are available for you to pick up or to download.
If you are conducting research for undergrad courses, you can limit your book reading. If/when you go to graduate school, know that it is expected you will read the entire book.