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UNLV Libraries -> Architecture Studies Library -> Finding and Using Resources -> Module 14: ->Advanced Research - Finding information * Finding research studies * Research methods

Module 14: Advanced Research - Finding Information

Finding information in sources beyond the basic books and journal articles draws attention to many materials outside the Architecture Studies Library, and even outside the field of architecture studies. It is assumed that basic sources such as the Avery Index are already known.

In addition to what is below, I would recommend guides from two libraries to supplement this information. The University of Cincinnati Design, Architecture, Art & Planning Library “Architecture Research/ Frequently Asked Questions” covers information searches such as finding information on an architect, a building, a period; and how to search for plans
Some of the information in their guide is specific to the University of Cincinnati, but much is more broadly relevant.

The University of California Berkeley Environmental Design Library provides guides to information in topics such as architects’ biographical information, climatic data resources, daylighting information resources, plans & pictorial sources, vernacular architecture and more

Specialized search engines (indexes/databases) outside of architectureGo to top of page

As the ACSA Architectural Education Action Plan Task Force points out, the effectiveness of architecture students depends on their ability to integrate interdisciplinary learning (ACSA News April 2005). One expression of this is seeking relevant information produced in other fields. Indexes/databasesoffer one method. For instance, a topic with engineering aspects should be searched in the indexes for engineering, such as Compendex, which provides access to citations and abstracts from 4500 journals and 2000 conferences covering all aspects of engineering. (Select "C" once database loads).

Another useful database is Scopus (Select "S" once database loads).. Scopus “provides abstracts for articles published in over 13,000 scientific, medical, technical and social science peer reviewed journals, including open access and electronic only titles. Though coverage for some titles extends back to 1966, coverage for most titles begins in the mid-1990’s or later. Cited references are included for all articles from 1999, with references available from 1996 onward. You can link to the full text of all articles to which UNLV has subscription access.”

To find an index/database in a discipline outside of architecture, go to the subject page for the discipline or scan through the list of indexes at and read the description for each index.

Google Scholar searches for scholarly material (books and articles) in all fields, and is therefore one way to introduce information from fields outside of architecture. Watch for the “Get text from UNLV” tag, which will take you to full-text articles in databases to which UNLV subscribes.

Government informationGo to top of page

Governmental bodies at various levels issue documents that can be vital for research. More and more of those documents are available on the web. To find federal documents on the web, start with UNLV Government Publications Department web page of searching tools Another useful grouping of pages they have gathered is the branches of government page with its drop down list of government agencies

Some of the most useful information provided by the federal government is statistical – census data, climatic data, economic data, crime statistics etc. Links to statistics issued by the federal government can be found at

To find Nevada state and local documents on the web check the site of the issuing agency. Many state and local documents are not on the web. Some state documents are listed in the UNLV Libraries online catalog If not, check with the government publications folks in Lied Library for state documents.

The Architecture Studies Library has many local documents related to architecture, landscape and planning. The ASL has, for example, land use plans from Clark County, maps, Regional Transportation Commission materials, master plans and much more. This list shows the print materials in the ASL, as well as linking to any of the materials that are online. Note that many of the documents are not available online.

Invisible webGo to top of page

It is sometimes easy to forget that cannot find everything on the web. Much on the web is still invisible to search engines. Data in the US Census is one example of what would not be found via a search engine. Journal articles and books in libraries cannot – for the most part – be located with a search engine (although this is starting to change, thanks to some Google initiatives). Materials in local databases or files are often not findable through a search engine. One example is the database of Las Vegas Architects and Buildings at

One way to explore the invisible web is to use guides or pathfinders, such as the one compiled by the ASL at and titled Architecture and Building: A Guide to Internet Sources. This guide has links to web sites in over 50 categories, with most entries annotated to describe the web site.

Digital projects can be databases, or collections of images, or text indexes. They can be found using a search engine if you know the overall topic of the project, but the contents are not accessible through the search engine. The listing of digital projects in Architecture and Building: A Guide to Internet Sources has two sections relevant to digital projects: “Information Databases and Image Banks” and “Research – Databases.”

StatisticsGo to top of page

Statistics can be located in several ways.

The UNLV Libraries subscribes to the online Statistical Universe database, which indexes over 100,000 publications containing statistics published by federal, state, local, international, and private sources.

For international statistics a good starting place is the United Nations Statistics Division .

Links to statistics issued by the federal government can be found at

The Nevada State Data Center has Nevada statistics online The UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research also has Nevada and Las Vegas statistics online.

Local statistics related to planning are listed in the UNLV Architecture Studies Library local planning materials list under “Related Planning Materials”

Library catalogsGo to top of page

To find books and other materials that are not held by the UNLV Libraries, search the catalogs of other libraries. The Library of Congress web site takes you to their catalog, as well as their many digital projects. The Library of Congress has a substantial collection, since publishers deposit their titles with that library. Another excellent source is the catalog of libraries from all over the world, called WorldCat. The UNLV Libraries subscribes to WorldCat which includes many types of materials [books, slides, microfilm, videos, journals]. (Select "W" once database loads).

If the research you are doing concerns a specific geographic location, searching the catalogs of libraries in that area is sometimes helpful. Check the web for both university and public libraries. Check their online catalogs as well as the descriptions of their special collections department [special collections material may not be in the online catalog!].

The Architecture Studies Library also has print volumes of specialized libraries or collections, which can be especially useful for historical information and research. Search the online catalog by keyword “library catalogs” for many of these. Here are some sample titles: American Garden Literature in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection (1785-1900); Architecture and the Decorative Arts:The A. Lawrence Kocher Collection of Books at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Catalog of the Avery Memorial Architectural Library of Columbia University; and The Burnham Index to Architectural Literature [a catalog of the Burnham Architecture Library at the Art Institute of Chicago].

BibliographiesGo to top of page

Bibliographies are lists of books and other material types. Annotated bibliographies are lists with a short paragraph describing each entry in the list. Bibliographies can be published as a part of a book, or as a stand-alone title. They can be found in articles, or as articles. They can be print or online.

The UNLV Libraries subscribes to the online Bibliography of the History of Art which indexes and abstracts art-related books, conference proceedings and dissertations, exhibition and dealer's catalogs, and articles from over 4,000 periodicals from 1973 onward and including painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, decorative arts, applied arts, architecture, industrial design, popular art, and folk art. It can be found at (Select "B" once database loads).

Book reviewsGo to top of page

Book reviews can be useful for more than just describing the contents of a book. A critical lengthy review can be a valuable find, putting the book and its research in the context of other research in the field, often pointing out conflicting viewpoints. Examples of this type of review can be found in the journals Design Book Review [ASL holds 1988-2001], and in the Journal of Planning Literature.

The UNLV Libraries subscribes to the online Book Review Digest "B" once database loads).. To be indexed in Book Review Digest, a book must have been published or distributed in the United States or Canada. A work of nonfiction must have received reviews in two or more of the periodicals on the Book Review Digest selection list.

Book reviews can also be found in journal indexes such as the Avery Index and Art Index, and on the web.

In print, the Lied Library reference area has the Book Review Index from 1965 onward. The Book Review Index includes books with just one book review, so it includes books not found in the Book Review Digest.

NewspapersGo to top of page

The UNLV Libraries subscribes to the online Newspaper Source (Select "N" once database loads). Citations, abstracts and often full text of articles from nine major national newspapers: The New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlanta Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, and USATODAY as well as the Las Vegas Review Journal. Coverage extends primarily from the mid-1980s to the current date for most of the newspapers.

For coverage of earlier times, the UNLV Libraries has the online New York Times from 1851-2002.

Associations and expertsGo to top of page

For most disciplines and areas of study there is an association devoted to it. Associations often have publishing programs as well as suggestions for experts to contact for additional information. Many associations have their own sites on the web. You can try a search engine to locate these sites. Another approach is to identify the name of the association first, and then search on the web.

The UNLV Libraries subscribes to the online Associations Unlimited, a full text database of approximately 460,000 international and U.S. national, regional, state, and local nonprofit membership organizations in all fields, including IRS data on U.S. 501(c) nonprofit organizations. For some 2,600 major U.S. national associations, it provides full-text association materials such as brochures, pamphlets, and membership application forms.

The Architecture Studies Library has in its reference section the 1998 Encyclopedia of Associations and Information Sources for Architects, Designers, and Engineers. The ASL web site lists architecture associations and their web sites in a separate associations list at

MapsGo to top of page

A listing of map web sites can be found in Architecture and Building: A Guide to Internet Sources at in the Maps section of the guide. Books of aerials in the Architecture Studies Library [e.g. Above London or New York from the Air] can be found by searching the UNLV Libraries online catalog [choose the Architecture Studies Library collection, search keyword “aerial”].

Las Vegas and surrounding area maps are listed in Architecture Studies Library local planning materials list The ASL has maps in a variety of formats, including paper and CD. The ASL has aerial maps, topographic maps, land use maps, planning maps, etc. The UNLV Libraries has additional Las Vegas maps in the Special Collections department [search the online catalog by subject “Aerial photographs – Las Vegas”].

Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are available in the UNLV Libraries microform section for the western states [search the online catalog by subject: insurance fire Nevada]. These maps provide detailed documentation for the buildings in existence at the time the map was made. Fire insurance maps held by the Libraries for Nevada span the period 1928-1970. The ASL special collections has a CD with Sanborn maps for Fremont Street only.

Go to top of page

Questions? Ask the Architecture Studies Librarian online or any of the staff in the Architecture Studies Library.
The general phone number for the library is 702-895-1959.

If you have comments about the usefulness of this module and/or how it can be improved, please contact Jeanne Brown, Architecture Studies Librarian, at

Revised 8/05

Monday, 17-Dec-2012 10:50:32 PST