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This guide contains recommendations on resources, search tips, as well as information about citing your sources in MLA 8 style format for your research assignment on LA Neighborhoods and PsychoGeography

OneSearch Video

Once you have selected the city, town or neighborhood you are going to research, a good place to start is to use the library's OneSearch Discovery tool to find books containing historic and primary sources (such as photographs) on your chosen neighborhood. After narrowing your search to "books", select "available online" on the left-hand navigation to limit to electronic books. 

Remember that geographic names are repeated throughout the United States so your first step will be to evaluate your search results to make sure you have found material on the city/town in Southern California.

Searches for larger cities, such as Pasadena or Glendale, may have dozens or even hundreds of results and you will need to add additional search terms to focus the search and narrow your results.  Examples of terms to add that will focus on the psychogeography of a city are the following: buildings, history, social conditions.  If you are exploring a particular aspect of your neighborhood, for example, the problem of gentrification in Echo Park, you will want to add that term to your search as well. Hostile or defensive architecture is another topic that might be interesting to explore. 

You will learn that research is an iterative process and may require that you try several sets of search terms before finding the material relevant to your neighborhood.  Please consult a Reference Librarian via Chat (see link at bottom of this page or text to this number 1-818-873-0275, email a librarian at

What Is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of an event or an era created by participants in that event or era.  These are original documents, artworks, or artifacts that provide historical evidence upon which later analysis and reporting is based. 

 Examples of primary sources include the following:
     -Letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches
     -Oral histories
     -Photographs, films
     -Art works [novels, poems, paintings, songs, murals, etc.]
     -Artifacts [advertisements, posters, pamphlets, clothing, buildings, etc.]
     -Original data, original research & case studies
     -E-mail, blogs, Tweets​

  • Often uses first-person voice: “I saw… I escaped…I believed… We surveyed… We studied…”
  • Has original, direct perspective
  • Is an original, creative product or a new study, conducted for the first time
  • Is a product of its immediate time or era
  • Testifies, emotes, expresses



Using primary sources from local archives, such as USC Libraries, this video series,LA Lost, produced by local public television station KCET, explores the history of Los Angeles.  Videos cover general topics, such as architecture, and there are also some on particular regions or places, e.g., Venice and Descanso Gardens.  Some of the videos are accompanied by text articles as well, e.g., the video on Venice is complemented by an article on Muscle Beach.    

The search box for this site requires two steps to find.  After you arrive at the site, hit page down and a three bar menu icon will appear at the top left  

Click on the bars and a drop down menu including a search feature appears.  When you type in your topic, your results will include not only any Lost LA episodes that exist on your topic but videos / articles from other productions may appear as well.

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