Semester at CityStudio Fall 2014

Belzberg Library welcomes students in the Semester in Dialogue to SFU Vancouver. This guide will help you to use our library to find and evaluate research material for your projects.

If you need help, please contact Karen Marotz, Head, Belzberg Library at 778.782.5054 or or Ask a librarian.




Dialogue resources

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Belzberg Library - your home branch

  • Belzberg Library has developed collections and services to support courses at the SFU Vancouver campus, such as the Semester in Dialogue.
  • Today Belzberg Library is CLOSED [open 10:00am to 5:00pm]. See Hours: Opening & Closing Times for hours information for all SFU libraries.
  • Reference librarians are available at the Belzberg Library to assist you. Please don't hesitate to come in or Ask a Librarian.
  • Students at the SFU Vancouver campus may request delivery of books and journal articles from Bennett Library (Burnaby Campus) or Fraser Valley Real Estate Board Academic Library (Surrey Campus) to Belzberg Library (Harbour Centre building, SFU Vancouver). Delivery usually takes 2 working days.
  • If the item you want is not available at SFU, it can be requested from another library (Interlibrary Loan) for delivery to Belzberg Library. This usually takes one to two weeks. See Borrowing Materials From Other Libraries for more information on using Interlibrary Loan services.
  • Electronic article indexes and databases and e-journals are available on Belzberg Library workstations and most are also available from off campus with your computing ID and password. For articles not available online or at Belzberg, you may request delivery of a photocopy.
  • Reserves (if any) for your courses are available at Belzberg Library.
  • Books borrowed from the Bennett Library or the Fraser Library (except for course reserves and special loans) may be returned to the Belzberg Library (and vice-versa).
  • Check your due dates, holds or renew your books online. If you make use of SFU's Connect email system, you can renew items from within Connect without entering your SFU Library barcode.
  • All library notices for SFU students, including holds, recalls and overdue items, are automatically sent to your official SFU email address.
  • Individual and group study space is available for SFU students.
  • The Student Learning Commons provides workshops and individual consultations to support academic writing, learning and study strategies for SFU Vancouver students.

See the Belzberg Library web page for more information and take the virtual tour. The Belzberg Brew newsletter will tell you about new library services or check out the list of new books added to the Belzberg collection.

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Research sources

Library research involves selecting your topic, identifying the best sources and appropriate research tools, accessing the items found and evaluating your results. Start Your Research Here is a brief guide that will help you with this process.

Start your hunt for information "at home" by visiting the SFU Library home page. This gathers all the best research tools, guides and research help in one place. Try our Library Search engine from the home page to quickly find books, articles and information on the library website in one search.

Books, articles and web sites on your course reading list or course outline can also provide a good starting point, particularly if the items include bibliographies, references or links to related material.


1. Books, ebooks, films, music, sound, slides

Search the catalogue to find all books, reports and media materials in the SFU Library at all three campuses (Belzberg - Vancouver; Bennett - Burnaby; Fraser - Surrey).

Searching by KEYWORD is generally the best way to start. Once you have found some good results with your keyword searches, use the subjects on those items to focus your search.

Try the following SUBJECT headings:

The main SUBJECT heading for information about Vancouver is: Vancouver (B.C.) Note the list of SUBHEADINGS for more specific aspects of the city.

Refer to previous Dialogue course guides for more subject headings related to the City of Vancouver's Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, the foundation of CityStudio.

Limit your search to items at Belzberg Library by checking Belzberg Library (Vancouver) under "Keyword search with optional limits."

If the item is not available at Belzberg Library, or is out on loan, please request it! Find electronic books, films, dvds, cds or slides on your topic by searching specific collections or by checking off the optional limit.


For a step-by-step interactive guide to searching the SFU catalogue, see the SFU Library Catalogue Search Guide.



2. Journal and newspaper articles

All print and electronic journals subscribed to by the SFU Library are listed in the catalogue. Electronic journals are also listed in the Electronic Journals Database by title, subject and by the association/organization who publishes the journal.

Connect to Journal Articles and Databases to find articles in academic journals, trade magazines, reports and newspapers, as well as financial and statistical data. Many indexes provide online access to the full text of the articles or allow you to directly request copies of articles through the "Where Can I Get This?" link. Browse by subject area to identify useful databases for your topic.

Try the same subject terms as suggested for books, or check the thesaurus or list of subject terms within the database. For help with searching databases, check Finding Journal Articles and/or Moving From Citation to Article.

For books and articles not online or at SFU, request an Interlibrary Loan.


3. Statistics and government sources

BC Housing
Partners with public and private housing providers, other levels of government and community agencies to create housing support for those in need. See Partner Resources and Housing Initiatives

BC Stats Publications
The A-Z index (located on the upper left corner) provides access to BC Statistics by subject.

City of Vancouver
Provides information and links to city projects and initiatives, including:

See also City of Vancouver Areas of the City Web Pages, which includes information about Vancouver's neighbourhoods, including profiles, partnership programs, projects and community events.

Data BC
An open data initiative by the Government of British Columbia. Use the catalogue to access provincial government data, applications, and web services. Browse by sector and organization.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Canadian municipalities in partnership with the Government of Canada focusing on improving quality of life for citizens. Programs include Green Municipal Fund and Partners for Climate Protection.

Government of British Columbia:
Access point to the Government of British Columbia. Browse the A-Z subject indexministries and organizations, or services section for initiatives, mandates, and responsibilities at the provincial government level.

Government of Canada Open Data Portal
Federal government datasets available to find, evaluate, access, visualize, and reuse. Browse by department, subject, or geospatial collection. Includes links to other open data initiatives available at the provincial and municipal level.

Environment Canada
Federal Ministry of Environment; see the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

Metro Vancouver
Community planning and development information, including an overview of Metro Vancouver's Sustainable Region Initiative. See also past Sustainability Dialogues.

Ministry of Social Development and Innovation
Transforms the delivery of government and community-based services to assist British Columbians in overcoming social and economic barriers.

Statistics Canada: Statistics by Subject
The main source for Canadian statistical information, including statistics on the environment. Search the 2011 Census for city and community-level statistics. Statistics Canada has also prepared a customized 2011 Census local area dataset for the City of Vancouver, using the City’s 22 local planning areas.

Vancouver Coastal Health
Provides local health care services within Metro Vancouver. Focuses on community and environmental health.


4. Selected Internet sources

In addition to the library catalogue and databases, you will find a lot of good information on the web. Governments, research institutes, non-profit organizations, industry and other associations and companies all have web sites - many with publications freely available. Use a web search engine such as Google, Google Scholar or to find additional information, including the web sites of interest groups and other organizations. Check the library's Internet Research guide for additional help in finding and evaluating web sites.

Useful sites for Semester at CityStudio:

BC Healthy Communities
Province-wide not-for-profit organization that facilitates the ongoing development of healthy, thriving and resilient communities. See the Learning Centre for tools, articles, and publications. A founding member of Canadian Healthy Communities.

BC Ideas
A Changemakers community. Explores new ways of developing, investing in, and increasing social impact across BC. Features interviews and blog posts with leading social innovators and entrepreneurs from across BC and Canada.


Building Movement Project
Advance ways nonprofits can significantly contribute to building movement for progressive social change. Includes reports on social change leadership.

Canadian Institute of Planners - Tools and Guidelines for Healthy Communities
Includes a research section with a focus on public health, land use planning, community design, age-friendly communities, First Nations, mental health, transportation, and housing.

Centre for Social Innovation: Toronto
A coworking space connecting individuals and organizations working on local and global social innovation projects.
The world's largest online petition platform. 

Cyburbia: The Planning Community
A  social networking site for urban planners and others interested in cities and the built environment.

The Happy City/Lab
Charles Montgomery's book about achieving happiness through urban design. 

International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC)

A partnership between SFU and Judith Marcuse Projects. A global centre for networking, training, professional development, research and community outreach in the field of art for social change. Includes a resources and links section.

NewCity Institute
Promotes best practices research and implementation focused on cities, sustainability and citizen participation, and includes links to local projects. 

SFU Public Square: City Converstions
A series of discussions on various issues affecting Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including culture, architecture the environment and food.

Social Innovation Exchange (SIX)
Connects individuals, organizations and industries to create innovative solutions to social problems such as climate change, inequality and healthcare.

Social Innovation Generation
A collaborative partnership between The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the University of Waterloo, the MaRS Discovery District, and the PLAN Institute, aiming towards fostering innovation and change. 

A collection of tools and informational resources for transforming ideas for social change into a reality. Endorsed by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. 

Street to Home
A partnership between Vancouver Foundation, City of Vancouver and the Province of BC. View reports and studies, as well as housing projects tackling homelessness in Vancouver.

What Works: new ways to make social change
A website dedicated to showcasing new and creative ways to make social change. 

World Health Organization Healthy Settings
Includes international resources, publications, and links to Healthy Cities Initiatives launched by cities around the world.


 5. Research guides for related subjects

Subject Research guides are produced by SFU liaison librarians to point you to the best external sources as well as providing information about publications available in the library. Try these guides for further suggestions.


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Evaluating information

Virtually all information has some sort of bias or inherent assumption about the world.  Since you cannot avoid it, you need to practice looking for it and taking it into account when you form your own conclusions.  Aside from watching for biases and assumptions, you also need to critically evaluate all information sources (regardless of whether the source was a book, an article, a Web site, or a person) for accuracy, currency, completeness, and several other criteria. 

The following list covers some key questions that you should ask of any information source and offers a few more sources for further information on evaluation. Don't despair that you will never find anything that meets all of the criteria: remember that decisions are made with such information all the time -- you just need to make a judgment call about how far out of line a piece of data is (e.g., is it so old as to be useless? is the bias extreme?) and about how much of it you can use.  You should also try to find as many alternative sources/viewpoints as possible. 

Don't forget to clearly document any judgment calls or assumptions that you make based on the imperfect information you find.

  • Methodology and intent
    • Why did they conduct this study, and precisely how did they conduct it? How does this match what you think should be done? What flaws do you see in how the information was gathered?  Is any of this information available?  (Possibly not if the report or data you found has been published by someone other than the original researcher.)
  • Authority
    • What are the qualifications and reputation of the writer/speaker/publisher? Are they experts in their field?
  • Completeness
    • Is the information presented complete or does it seem that something might be missing? An information source that deliberately leaves out important facts, qualifications, consequences, or alternatives, may be misleading or even intentionally deceptive.
  • Currency
    • Up-to-dateness is especially important for statistical or scientific data or political or socioeconomic studies.
  • Documentation
    • Does the book/journal/Web page explain the sources of its information and how the information was obtained?
  • Precision
    • What units did they use? Are these the units you would have used?
  • Accuracy
    • Are the facts presented accurate? You may want to cross-check statistics or other facts against other sources.
  • Level
    • Who is the intended audience for the information? Is the level of treatment academic or popular, expert, or novice?

Evaluation is particularly important when finding information on the Web. For more information, see the Evaluation section of the library's guide to Internet Research.

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Writing and citing

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Ask us!

If you would like any further assistance or information about the library or your research, don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian in person, by phone, email or interactive reference.