How do I start research at the Library?

The Kansas City Public Library has many resources to help with your research. Where you begin depends a lot on what you already know and how much you want to find on your topic. Here are some suggestions to get started.



Encyclopedias are good starting points for topics on which you have limited knowledge. Starting with an encyclopedia can help you learn the basics of your topic and help you focus on your topic. The Central Reference Department not only has general encyclopedias such as the World Book Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, but many specialized encyclopedias and reference sources such as Contemporary Authors, the Encyclopedia of Psychology, the Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music and Art and the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

We also provide access to Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, an online encyclopedia.


We have books on almost all topics. To identify books that might help, use our Library Catalog. You may enter keywords to search for topics. If this results in too many hits, try limiting the search by selecting a few of the refinement options on the right side.

Magazine Articles

The Library subscribes to several online magazine indexes that index thousands of magazine and journals. These databases also make available the full text of many of the articles. Proquest and EBSCOHost are the two databases you should start with. These databases can be found by clicking on Databases under Research Resources on the Library’s menu bar (at the top of each page on the website). For more information on locating magazine articles please see How Do I Find an Article?

Specialized Databases and Resources

Clicking on Databases (found underneath the Research Resources link on the menu bar) will take you to many additional databases and resources on specific topics.

Reference Department

If you are unable to find what you need, please call the Central Reference Department at 816-701-3433 or stop at the Reference Desk on the third floor of the Central Library.

Remember, when in doubt - ask a librarian for help!

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