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HIS 3387 Christianity in Asia: Find Books

Accessing E-books

As a current student, you have access to e-books owned by the SPU library. You can search for e-books in the catalog, and access them with your SPU credentials. For more on finding and using e-books, see our e-book subject guide.

Requesting a Book

To request a book from the SPU library or from one of our Summit partners, first sign in with your SPU credentials on the catalog page. Find the book you want to request, click on the title, and scroll down the page to where it says "Get It," the follow the link and the prompts to submit your request. You'll receive an e-mail when your book is ready for pickup in our contactless pickup system.

Requesting a Chapter Scan

If you need access to a chapter of a book SPU owns, you can request a scan of that chapter. Use the Chapter Scan Request Form to submit your request. 

Finding What You Need In a Book

An easy way to find the best chapter or section of a book to read is to check the Table of Contents, which can often be searched online, even for print books. To find the Table of Contents, click on the title of the book you are interested in, and scroll down to the "Details" section. The Table of Contents will appear there, along with a short summary of the book and the subject headings used to describe it. Both the Table of Contents and the summary are searchable using the Ctrl-F function. (Note that older books sometimes don't have this feature.)

E-books' Tables of Contents often appear on the left navigation bar once you've logged into the book. E-books are also often fully text searchable, with a search bar in the left navigation bar. 

For print books, the index in the back of the book gives particular pages numbers with information on different subjects, places, and people. Instead of reading the whole book, start at the pages that the index shows have information on your topic.

Subject Headings

Subject Headings are like tags for photographs; they briefly describe what a book or article is about. 

For this class, useful terms that are often in subject headings are things like location names ("China," "Tokyo"), special topic terminology like "missions," and terms that describe groups within Christianity, like "Jesuit" or "Baptist." Try using some combination of these to get a focused results list.

Once you find something that is just what you need, or close to it, look at the terms used in the subject heading for that item. You can see the subject headings for a book by clicking on the title and scrolling down the page; the headings are links, and clicking on one will get you a new list of books with that same subject heading. You can see the subject headings for an article by looking below the title and author information in the results list; clicking on one will give you a new results list of articles with that same subject heading. 

Evaluating Books

Is this book a good one to use? Here are some ways to tell:

  • Check the publisher. If the publisher is a university press, the book is a good one. If the publisher is a regular publisher, take a look at some of the other things they have published. Is it a big publisher? That is a good sign. Is it a small publisher? Even a small publisher can put out good books, but small publishers that are close to their subject matter can be particularly good (for example, a publisher in Washington State that publishes books about Seattle is probably a good one, even if it is small).
  • Check the author. What are the author's credentials? Has the author written many books on this topic? An author that has a PhD or has written a lot on the topic is a good bet, especially one that has written about the topic for many years. Is the author close to the subject matter, that is, from the area or related to the person, or something similar? That can be a good sign, but it can also mean that the author is biased toward the subject. If you use such an author, be sure to acknowledge in your work somehow that the author has a bias.
  • Check the date. Unlike other subjects, a more recent work in history is not automatically a better one. But a work written before a major change can have limitations - think of a work on terrorism written before 9/11 - and a more recent work can sometimes have a bias towards the present (that is, it paints past things in a poor light just because they were in the past). The publication date isn't a guarantee of good quality, but it can change how you use an item in your own work.

Ultimately, use your good judgement. And consulting a wide range of books can help you get a sense of what a good book on the topic looks like!