Kathryn A. Martin Library


by Tom Zogg



A wide variety of information sources on water and hydrology is available for library research.  Projects ranging from a short report to an extended term paper or thesis will be served by the text, data, and graphics on this subject, published in books, periodicals, government documents, websites, media, technical reports, dissertations, and microform. 

Because water and hydrology are studied by physical scientists and social scientists, as well as being a popular topic in mass market publications, e.g. newspapers, news and editorial magazines, it is effective to focus on a specific subtopic:  fact, event, person, place, process, or theory for maximum success.   A water topic treated as a news story will be researched in different databases than a water topic in an academic subject, e.g. environmental studies, limnology, or geography.

As always, the research process involves timing and duration.  If you are working on a longer project, like a term paper, give yourself enough lead time.  Larger and more comprehensive databases will provide more citations, but are likely to require interlibrary loan on occasion.   Interlibrary loan requires 1-2 weeks of lead time for arrival.

If your research assignment requires a variety of sources, it is helpful to think of a university library as containing four collections:  books, periodicals (an inclusive term meaning journals plus magazines plus newspapers), government documents (UMD Library is a depository for many United States and Minnesota documents: the publications of federal and state agencies and departments), and media. 

Focus on content, not format.  Many sources are electronic, i.e. in databases.  Many sources are in print (books), media, or microform.  The books, media, and microform that we acquire, and the databases to which we subscribe, are an organized information environment of academic relevance.  Staying in that environment provides quality content.  Library Catalog (to find books, documents, and media primarily) and Databases (to find periodical articles primarily) are in web format, but they are not the internet of unknown organization and unverified content, accessed by search engines.  If using a search engine, e.g. Google, limit by domain (.edu .gov) to avoid bogus/inaccurate websites.

Your starting point is the Library homepage at   http://www.d.umn.edu/lib/   on your preferred browser.  If researching from an off-campus computer, remember to click "Connect from off Campus" at the left column of the homepage and follow the appropriate option.



From the Library homepage, a click on Library Catalog brings you to Basic Search.  It is a good idea then to click on Advanced Search on the tool bar immediately above it.  There you have not only more search boxes set up to combine terms, but the "Limit search to" options are below.  The down arrow in the All Collections box opens a window that shows the many specific parts of Library Catalog.  The four parts to focus your search are:  Books, Government Documents, Multimedia, and Reference.

After choosing a part of the Collection, change the Search box from All Keywords to LC Subjects.  This will remove items of peripheral relevance in your answer set.  The Library of Congress assigns one or more subjects to each book, government document, or media item that describes the main or primary subject(s) of the item.  Searching by LC Subjects gives precision and narrows your search.  Leaving the Search box on All Keywords yields a looser search with more results, but the term that you typed may be on any line of the catalog display (record) for that item, not necessarily the subject.

There are many Library of Congress Subjects on water and hydrology.  Ask a reference librarian at the second floor Research & Information Desk, phone 726-8100, or click on Ask Us! on the homepage to email or instant message.

As you build your list of sources for a course project or assignment, Reference is the part of the Collection often searched first.  These are electronic and print sources that provide background information, e.g. encyclopedias, and specific points of information, e.g. data handbooks, dictionaries, biographical sources, and atlases.  Reference books are located on the Library second floor.

The Library of Congress classification number (or "call number" for short) is the alphanumeric system used for shelf location of books and reference books.  Some books will be classed in TD, some in GB and elsewhere.  Reference books have REF preceding the call number, located near the Research & Information Desk on the second floor, where reference librarians will assist you.  Books that circulate from the Library have Library Book before the call number.  Library Book A-H is third floor, J-Z is fourth floor.  An electronic source will have Internet Resource before the call number and be accessed by computer.

Library sources for the subjects of water and hydrology follow on the next pages.  They are divided into five categories:  Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, Handbooks and Atlases, Databases, Government Documents, and Websites.



One of the best places to check definitions of terms and to start background reading is Access Science, which will be described under the Databases category.  The reference sources below are often specific to one area and are called subject dictionaries or subject encyclopedias.  These sources have abundant graphics to illustrate points of information.  Background reading in a subject encyclopedia will focus your research and provide specifics to pursue.   The last title on this list is an electronic book of encyclopedic arrangement, so type the title in Library Catalog, click on the title, then access via the "click here" icon.

REF GB 855 .A46 1985  Dictionary of Water Chemistry.

REF GB 655 .E53 1998X  Encyclopedia of Hydrology and Water Resources.

REF GC 9 .E57 2001  Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences.

REF GB 655 .N38 2003  Encyclopedia of Water.

REF GB 655 .G56 1998  Glossary of Hydrology.

REF TD 365 .G56 1995x  Glossary of the Great Lakes: a Minnesota Perspective.

REF TD 426 .M66 2000  Groundwater Chemicals Desk Reference.

REF QC 851 .W6445  International Glossary of Hydrology.

REF TD 345 .W39 2005  Water Encyclopedia.

Internet Resource REF GB 655 .W38 2003eb  Water: Science and Issues. 



In topical order rather than encyclopedic (alphabetical) order, handbooks vary in content.  Some are manuals of methods and other text; some are numerical: charts, diagrams, and tables of data; some are a combination of the two.   In library research, this category of information source often is used after the introduction to the subject by dictionaries and encyclopedias.  Numerical data and lab methods in handbooks are useful for short assignments and term papers.  They have a long history since the Renaissance, when the need was to publish basic information on a subject in one book that fit into a saddlebag for easy travel.  An atlas can be centered on water bodies as well as on landforms.

REF TD 345 .S65 2002  Freshwater Issues: a Reference Handbook.

REF G 1107 .G7 G7 1995  Great Lakes: an Environmental Atlas and Resource Book.

REF TD 403 .M66 1995X  Groundwater, a Primer.

REF GB 662.5 .M35 1993  Handbook of Hydrology.

REF TD 388 .V53 2001  Handbook of Water Use and Conservation.

REF QC 861.3 .P67 2003  Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water: Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology, and Societal Impacts.

REF GB 1001.72 .M32 S770 1995X  Hydrogeological Maps: a Guide and a Standard Legend.

REF TD 367 .R8613 1999  Laboratory Manual for the Examination of Water, Waste Water, and Soil.

REF GB 1215 .P29 1994  Rivers of the United States.

REF TD 351 .V36 1990  Water Encyclopedia.  [a compendium of data tables, not an encyclopedia]

REF TD 223 .M53 1992  Water Quality and Availability: a Reference Handbook.



On the Library homepage, if you click on Databases, the entire list is retrieved, including two assortment databases, Academic Search Premier and Academic OneFile, that offer subject access to periodical articles on all academic subjects.  A selection of some periodicals on water and hydrology is part of these two databases.  In exchange for wide academic coverage, depth of coverage is limited.  For depth of coverage in specific subjects, other databases from geography, geological sciences, environmental studies, etc. are included below.   Over half of the articles in Academic Search Premier (ASP) and Academic OneFile (AOF) are full-text.  They are starting points to build a list of articles.

Access Science is the electronic version of McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology.  Similar to ASP and AOF, Access Science has encyclopedia articles (marked with an E), as well as dictionary definitions (marked with a D), research updates (marked with a R), and biographies (marked with a B).  New articles are regularly added.

For a news approach to water and hydrology, NewsStand is a full-text database for over 250 newspapers.  Dissertations & Theses retrieves abstracts (paragraph summaries) and partial full-text for doctoral dissertations.  Annual Reviews is a full-text database that retrieves articles from a group of periodicals that are published once per year.  WorldCat is a citations database for the tens of millions of books, media, and other publications catalogued in libraries around the world.

The databases mentioned so far retrieve periodical article citations and/or full-text from either an assortment of periodicals or from mainly one type of source, e.g. annuals or newspapers.  On the Library homepage, if you click on Databases by Subject, the entire list of Databases is divided into its academic subjects.  For water and hydrology, the primary Databases by Subject to retrieve are:

Environmental Studies          Geography          Geological Sciences

There may be research topics that need to utilize the databases in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics, and Urban and Regional Studies.  But the three above connect to databases that cover a wide range of topics comprehensively and with scholarly content. 

Focus on the following databases for comprehensive coverage in the three academic subjects mentioned above.  You will retrieve citations and abstracts of articles.  Note the FindIt icon next to the citations in your answer set.  FindIt will link to full-text for that citation, if available in any of our databases.  If not, arrow down on the FindIt screen to Library Catalog and click on it.  FindIt then searches Library Catalog to see if it is in print form on the periodical shelves (2000-present on the third floor, pre-2000 in the Annex, connected to the second floor).

Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management            Geobase            GeoRef           Water Resources Abstracts

Many periodicals, plus proceedings, reports, maps, and theses, are indexed by these databases, so many publishers are covered.  Yet there is a different type of database, typically from one or a limited number of publishers, but offering full-text of their periodicals.  Use the following electronic journal and e-book databases to continue your research.

ENVIROnetBASE          JSTOR          Nature.com          NetLibrary          Project Muse           Science          ScienceDirect          SpringerLink          Wiley InterScience          ENGnetBASE          CHEMLIBnetBASE

Since all databases use boolean operators, if your topic has multiple keywords (nouns, concepts), use the advanced search feature in each database (some are already in that mode as default) and type one keyword per box.  The boolean operator  "AND"  should be in place to intersect terms so the result has all keywords.  



An important form of information in water and hydrology is government documents.  UMD Library has been a depository for Minnesota (state) documents since 1979 and United States (federal) documents since 1985.  Whereas documents were in print, media (e.g. CDs) and microfiche for decades, the advent of electronic sources, i.e. databases and websites, has expanded the time coverage of our documents collection.  UMD Library receives approximately forty percent of federal government documents that are available to the depository system.  U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are two important producers of federal documents on water and hydrology topics.

On the Library homepage, Library Catalog in Advanced Search mode, where you can limit to government documents, will access our federal collection.  Use Databases by Subject, then click on Government and Law, to access the indexes for Minnesota and U.S. government documents, which are:

Minnesota Northstar            GPO Access  (Catalog of U.S. Government Publications is a general index in it)

Library Catalog will provide citations to U.S. government documents in a variety of formats:  print (library second floor), CD (library first floor media desk), microfiche (library third floor), and websites (full-text links by clicking on URLs with the word purl in the internet address).  GPO Access also has full-text links.  It is a group of many government databases in alphabetical order.

GeoRef is an important Database in addition to Minnesota Northstar and GPO Access.  Of the many government document series that it indexes, one important series is Water-Resources Investigations.  UMD Library has an extensive collection of these water and hydrology site studies.  In print form on the Library second floor, their government documents number begins  I 19.42/4:  with numbers continuing to the right of the colon that indicate the specific site study.  GeoRef indexes these documents, with the text, maps, diagrams, and charts of many of them also available at  http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/



The USGS is moving its publications to electronic format and two websites in particular should be tracked for this progress and for description of the several water and hydrology series produced. 

USGS Water Resources of the United States publications     

USGS Publications Warehouse    

The homepage for USGS Water Resources of the United States and two examples of important links:

USGS Water Data for the Nation    

USGS Ground Water Information Pages    

Two important US EPA websites are:

EPA Ground Water & Drinking Water    

EPA Drinking Water Academy Electronic Workshop   

There are many national and local water research organizations, often part of educational institutions.  Listed below are a representative group of their websites.  The first three are quite famous.

UMD Large Lakes Observatory    

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution    

Scripps Institution of Oceanography    

Great Lakes Water Institute        

Water Science & Technology Board (National Academy of Sciences)    

Water Properties    

Why Is Water Blue?    

University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute    

University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water, and Climate    

Institute of Water Research (Michigan State University)    

State of Washington Water Research Center    

Water Resources Research Center (University of Massachusetts)    

National Drinking Water Clearinghouse (West Virginia University)   

University Council on Water Resources (Southern Illinois University)    

Water Resources Research Center (University of Arizona)    

Water in the City (Franklin Institute, Philadelphia)    

Water Pollution and Society (U. of Michigan)  

Water Resources Center Archives (U. of California-Berkeley Library)  

Updated March 2008 by Tom Zogg

Maintained by Pam Enrici


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