Durham Tech Distance Learning Students

If you are a Durham Tech student taking distance learning courses exclusively, the library has a number of services and resources available just for you. Please explore the links below to find out more.

How can I get a library card?
How do I borrow and return books?
How can I search the library catalog?
What books are available electronically?
How do I search the library’s electronic databases?

Can you give me some tips and advanced strategies for database searching?
How do I cite sources in my research paper?
Where do I find help using Sakai?
How can I contact the library for further assistance?

How do I get a library card?

Library PhotoDurham Tech distance education students who are not taking any courses on campus may contact the library. We will use your Durham Tech ID number (your Colleague number) to verify your information and distance education status. Then we will create a patron account for you in our records and mail a Durham Tech library card to you at the address you have provided for us. The barcode on the back of your library card is your library user ID.

If you come to campus and get a Durham Tech ID card, you may also bring your ID card to the library and we can put you into our library system immediately, placing the library barcode on the back of your Durham Tech ID.

How do I borrow and return books?

You can borrow materials from this library or from other community college libraries in person using your Durham Tech library card. If you are taking Durham Tech distance education courses exclusively (if you are taking no courses that require you to be on campus at any time), at your request we will be happy to check out books from our library (limit two at a time) to you and send them to you in the mail. This service is only available to distance education students taking no courses on campus, and we reserve the right to verify your status. Please note that reserve items cannot be checked out this way—reserve materials may only be used in the library. You can also obtain books from other libraries via interlibrary loan. There is usually no charge for this; however, if you wish us to obtain articles or other materials for which other libraries do charge us a fee, any such fees will be passed on to you.

You may return materials we have sent to you in one of three ways:

  • Mail them back to us using the Durham Tech library label provided when we sent you your book(s).
  • Return to the circulation desk or drop box of the Durham Tech library (box is just outside the ERC building).
  • Return to the circulation desk or drop box of another community college library (not a public library or other library, as this will make it far slower and much more difficult for our books to get back to us).

How can I search the library catalog (CCLINC)?

CCLINC is a shared catalog linking most of North Carolina's community college libraries together.


From the Durham Tech Library web page, select the link for Durham Tech Online Catalog. To see what materials are held by our library, make sure that “Durham” is selected in the library search box. You may also select “Durham—North” or “Durham—Chapel Hill” to search the collections of the libraries at the Northern Durham and Orange Skills Development Center satellite branches of Durham Tech.

How to search:

Type the terms you are looking for inside the search box. Then select the kind of search that you would like to conduct from these choices: search by “words or phrase” (this searches everything), “author”, “title”, “subject”, or “series”. Please note that at this time Durham Tech’s periodical holdings (journals and magazines) are not listed in our library catalog. To determine whether our library owns print copies of a particular periodical, please contact us.

General catalog searching tips:

With all searches, correct spelling is very important (a misspelled name or subject will probably result in no hits or the wrong hits!), but using either upper or lower case letters should not matter. Your results will appear in reverse chronological order (the most recently published materials appearing first) in groups of 20 individual hits on each page. Each item should have an individual call number at the top—our books are shelved from A to Z using this system, so it’s important to keep track of this number in order to find material here in the library. Items that are designated as “Reference Material” cannot be checked out. Look for the words “copy available” to see if an item is on the shelf; “estimated wait” means an item is already checked out. If you need help searching, contact us.

To search by author:

Type the first name and last name or the last name followed by a comma and then the first name.
Example: Maya Angelou
Example: Steinbeck, John

To search by title:

Type as much of the title as you know.
Example: To Kill a Mockingbird
Example: Scribner Handbook for Writers

To search by subject:

Type the subject as it appears exactly in the Library of Congress Subject Headings list. This is a controlled vocabulary and terms must match the specific LC term.
Example: Capital Punishment
Example: Sociology

Search using sords or phrase (keyword):

Type any words and they will be searched from the entire record, including the title, content notes, organization name, etc. This type of search casts the broadest possible net for your search and is best when you want to find as much as possible.
Example: gun control
Example: cloning

Also, keywords can be combined, using the word AND to include both terms or using the word OR to include either term.
Example: women AND military
Example: World War II OR holocaust

Search by Series:

Type the series name you are looking for. You must already know the name of the series you want for this to work best!
Example: Opposing Viewpoints

Searching other Libraries' holding:

To the right of the search box, there is another box from which you can select the library you want to search. You can change this from Durham to search another library or all libraries at once by selecting ALL from the top of the menu.

What books are available electronically?

Electronic books are available through two resources:
The NetLibrary collection from NC Live, which offers an extensive collection of full-text e-books and e-Audiobooks
The Gale Virtual Reference Collection from NC LIVE, a searchable collection of e-book reference titles.
From off campus, both of these resources require the NC LIVE password. Please email us for this semester’s password.

How do I search the library’s electronic databases?

What databases are available at Durham Tech?

All the databases available to Durham Tech students are listed on the library database page.

How can I access these databases remotely?

Databases that can be accessed from off campus require a password and sometimes a username. Unfortunately, our vendors, such as NC LIVE, do not allow public access to their passwords so we are unable to post them on the library web site. Any Durham Tech student, staff, or faculty member can contact us to obtain these passwords.

Are all databases available from off campus?

No. The JSTOR databases are not available from off campus because we do not have a proxy server that allows this. Also, the legal databases are not uniformly available. Unless you are in our paralegal program, Westlaw can only be used on our campus (library staff cannot give out the password, but must log users in). In addition, Lexis-Nexis is restricted to use by students in the paralegal program only.

How do I know which NC LIVE resources to use for my research?

First, select the NC LIVE home page from the database home page. If you are accessing NC LIVE from off campus you will require a password which may be obtained from the Library via email.  Then select a heading under BROWSE BY CATEGORY on the left hand side of the page. This will show you specific NC LIVE databases more closely related to your research. In addition to these subject-specific resources, you can also use NC LIVE's general resources, which include all topics, to search for information on your topic. General resources from NC LIVE include Academic Search Complete, Masterfile Premier, NetLibrary, Gale Virtual Reference Library, Wall Street Journal, Newspaper Source Plus, and WorldCat.

Can you give me some tips and advanced strategies for database searching?


Keywords are the important terms, concepts, or ideas that are identified as search terms.

example: You are seeking information on stem cell research and the controversy surrounding this issue.
keywords: stem cells and controversy

example: You are interested in finding out about possible treatment options for pediatric AIDS.
keywords: pediatric and treatment and (AIDS or HIV)

Boolean Operators

What are Boolean operators?
The Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT tell computer databases and search engines which way to conduct searches that best suit the user's needs.

The AND operator

You can specify that terms must appear in the items you retrieve by using the AND operator. (It's best to capitalize Boolean operators because some search engines require this).
For example: gender AND crime

The above search statement will find documents containing both terms, "gender"and "crime".You can use the AND operator more than once in a search.
for example: gender AND crime AND poverty

The OR operator

Using the OR operator states a preference that either or both of your search terms appear in your results.
for example: college OR university

The above search statement will retrieve documents with either the term "colleg" or "university" or both terms, "college" and "university". You can use the OR operator more than once in a search.
for example: college OR university OR higher education

The NOT operator

The NOT operator forbids the word after it from appearing in the items resulting from your search.
for example: Mexico NOT New Mexico

The above search statement will retrieve documents containing the term "Mexico" but not containing the term"New Mexico".


Truncation is a method of including all the possible ending forms of a word through the use of a symbol. It is an effective tool for expanding a search that has retrieved too few results. For example, consider the word environment, which has several possible variations. To truncate this word, type the word environment followed by the appropriate truncation symbol for the particular database:


These are some of the terms that will be searched:

Various symbols are used for truncation, depending on the database you are searching. In the library databases, MasterFile Premier and InfoTrac, for example, the truncation symbol (sometimes referred to as a wildcard symbol) is an *. In other databases it may be a $ sign, a # mark, or even a + sign. Read the database help information to find out which symbol is used to indicate truncation, and how it can be applied.

sample search in InfoTrac Expanded Academic Index: comput*

Internal Truncation

A symbol within a word provides for all possible variants inside a word or word stem. The most commonly used symbol for internal truncation is ? or #. For example, a search for wom?n will retrieve both "woman" and "women".

Parentheses or Nesting

Use parentheses to clarify relationships between search terms when using the OR operator.
for example: (television OR mass media) AND violence combines "violence" with either "television" or "mass media".

example: (jam OR preserves OR jelly) and recipe combines "recipe" with either "jam" or "jelly" or "preserves"

Select keywords to use for your search based on important concepts or questions in your research. Then construct searches using Boolean operators and truncation when possible.

Examples of using keywords, Boolean operators, and truncation:

  • What effect does sleep have on memory?
    sleep AND memory

  • I need statistics on child abuse in North Carolina.
    child abuse AND North Carolina AND statistic*

  • How can I find criticism on Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery?"
    Shirley Jackson AND The Lottery AND critic*

  • Where can I find articles on women's education in Afghanistan?
    Wom?n AND educat* AND Afghanistan

  • I need information on teenage pregnancy.
    (teenagers OR adolescents) AND pregnancy

  • I need articles on the Titanic, the actual ship, not the film.
    Titanic NOT (film or movie)

How do I cite sources in my research paper?

The following links offer many examples for how to cite print and online sources in MLA format and in APA format: Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) MLA Update, Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) APA Update, and Tutorial: The Basics of APA Style.

For help organizing your citation information, you can also try using one of the many citation style makers on the internet, such as this one from the library at Calvin College, Michigan.

When in doubt about how exactly a work should be cited, although you are welcome to ask us, it is always best to consult your instructor directly—remember it is your instructor who will be grading your work!

Where do I find help using Sakai?

Help is available on the Sakai website. For additional technical assistance, you may contact Durham Tech’s Instructional Computing Team.

How can I contact the library for further assistance?

Getting in touch with us is easy!

Email us at: library@durhamtech.edu
Call us at: 919-536-7211
Fax us at: 919-686-3471

Write to us at:
Durham Technical Community College Library
1637 East Lawson Street
Durham NC 27703


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