I used to love the SMELL of the card catalog. (Weird, I know.) I loved the act of sorting through all those cards. And, yes, I spent many an hour flipping pages of the "Readers" Guide to Periodical Literature."
Dixie Girl, go to Amazon.com. You don't need to buy the books. Just read the reviews of books on the topic you are researching. Many book reviews are written by scholars or even well-informed hobbyists. Some reviews are very long and packed with information. I relish reading book reviews at Amazon. Yes, some are stupid; some are vicious. I often think those are written by cranks who have a hidden agenda.
Another feature Amazon has is lists of books on a particular topic often contributed by folks who have a deep interest in a topic and have read tons of the literature on that topic. Some Civil War book lists and reviews at Amazon have been a great help to me.
Wikipedia often has a bibliography at the end of articles that is very useful for further research. It doesn't just have books, but can also guide you to fertile web sites that offer valuable inofrmation.
The computer has opened up an amazing world to researchers. You are shortchanging your research projects if you don't at least give the Internet a cursory glance to help guide your research.