LOOP » Research Process » Find Books

Find Books

"How Do I Find Books?"

computer lab

Now that you have a topic, where can you find the information you need?

By the end of this lesson, you will know:

  • Why books are valuable to your research
  • How to use a library catalog to find books
  • How to find books at your library

How Much Do You Already Know?

What is a Library Catalog?

A listing of the latest and greatest in library equipment? No, library catalogs list and provide locations for the scholarly books and other materials available in libraries.

Why should I use one?

Library catalogs help you locate books, videos, government documents, journals, and all of the other terrific resources libraries make available to you.

Why are books important when I'm beginning my research?

Books are a great place to get an overview of what's known about a topic.

What Can I Find in the Library Catalog?


hand holding question mark

What Won't I Find in the Library Catalog?

The library catalog lists the periodicals that the library owns but it does not list specific articles that have appeared in periodicals.

Magazines, journals, and newspapers are all examples of periodicals.

If an article is what you need right now, jump to the lesson on How to Find Articles.

Fact Check

Put the materials that Lucy California can find using her campus's library catalog into her backpack.


How Do I Search the Library Catalog?

The most common search options are:

  • Keyword (All Fields)
  • Title
  • Author
  • Subject

Let's try a keyword (All Fields) search in the library catalog:

catalog search


Understand Your Catalog Search Results

To locate books and e-books in the library, there are three important things you need to know:

  1. location (books and e-books)
  2. call number (books)
  3. status (books)

Below you will find various examples of where to locate these on a catalog record.


Why Do I Need a Call Number?

The call number is the book's address in a library. Follow these steps to find a book on the shelf:

  1. Find the library name and location (often listed as "Location").
  2. Use the library map to locate the call number location directories.

Try it out. Place the call numbers on the books in the correct order, left to right.


How Do I Find Books on the Same Topic?

Now that you have tried a basic keyword search, you might want to find more books that are related to your topic. This is when searching by subject comes in very handy.

Should I Search by Keyword or by Subject?

Keywords are everyday terms used to describe a topic. Subject headings are the agreed-upon terms designated by the Library of Congress and assigned to each item in the library catalog.


How Do I Do a Subject Search in the Catalog?

Step 1

Once you've found a book closely related to your topic, you can use the book's subject headings to help you find additional resources on the same topic. Click on a title you like to see more information.

search result

How Do I Do a Subject Search in the Catalog?

Step 2

record details





Note: This section of the Research LOOP is adapted from a tutorial created by the University of California Libraries.