Add this to the "things I didn't know existed, but are so simple I should have" list.
Google Scholar is exactly what it sounds like - a search engine for super scholastic smarty pants articles. Search journals, theses, books, court documents, and other items that Google deems to be scholarly, and pull up results that are both digital in nature found online as well as paper copies found in various libraries. Use the advanced features for even more fun, such as sorting by date, showing citations (that can be imported into biblography creation software such as RefWorks) or differentiate between articles and legal documents. Turn on the library links to show results for up to 5 libraries in your area.
If nothing else, I feel that this feature weeds out results containing misinformation when a frustrated student is looking for reliable online sources.