The USC Libraries is a system of 17+ libraries on the University Park and the Health Sciences campuses. USC Libraries has several general research libraries and discipline specific libraries.
The Science and Engineering Library serves disciplines in life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. You should also be aware of several other related libraries. The Norris Medical Library, on the Health Sciences campus, will have materials geared toward medicine and science research with a medical emphasis. If you ever work on a project or assignment that has a legal issue, you may need to consult the Law Library.
You will be exposed to several different resource types while studying chemistry here at USC. The USC Libraries serves the role of providing access and instruction on these various resources.
Library Catalog: a library catalog is a search interface for finding materials owned by the library. These can be physical books, e-books, journals, dictionaries, etc. At USC, we use the catalog.
Databases: this is a generic term for an electronic or online resource that indexes and will search for a certain type of information. For example, we have databases that are solely devoted to find newspapers, magazines, or articles. In addition, there are large, umbrella databases that cover multiple topics and disciplines. In chemistry, you will hear the database names SciFinder, Reaxys, and CHEMnetBASE often.
Chemical Dictionaries: in chemistry, finding authoritative and reliable information is extremely important. If a boiling point is off by several degrees, this can cause real problems within the lab setting. Chemical dictionaries exist to provide authoritative and reliable chemical information. These resources provide basic information like boiling point, melting point, molecular formula, molecular weight, etc. But these dictionaries also provide chemical characteristics like color, odor, etc. and safety information like first aid.
Journals: a journal is usually a scientific "magazine" that focuses in a particular discipline or topic. Journals are the primary mode of scientific communication between researchers. There are thousands of journals in every topic, discipline, field, etc. Note: Journal titles are indexed in library catalogs and journal articles are indexed in databases. Journal availability is listed as a range of years. One exception is when the journal is still currently being published, You may see 1940- or 1940-present, they both mean the same thing.
Articles: an article is the individual research publication from a researcher or group of researchers. An article is extremely narrow and particular topic that is only a subfield of the journal the article is published in. You can search for articles in databases, not the library catalog. Often you will be given an article citation. A citation provides the author, article title, journal title, volume, issue, year of publication, and page numbers. Citations can be formatted in one of a hundred different ways, but in chemistry you will mostly see ACS (American Chemical Society) Style.