Locate a Book on the Shelf
How to Locate a Book in a Library
Today, most libraries use an electronic system to catalogue books. While the process of searching for a book may vary slightly from library to library, most libraries use the Library of Congress Classification System to organize its books. To locate a book, first search the library’s catalogue. Once you have identified a book, use the call number to find the book. If you cannot find your book, then ask a librarian to look for you, or request an interlibrary loan if the book is missing.
Searching the Catalogue
Find a computer in the library.Today, most libraries have electronic catalogues available on computer terminals throughout the library. Find a computer and access the library’s homepage. On the homepage there should be a search option for books, articles, magazines, newspapers and editorials. It is usually located at the top of the web page.
- The computers should have the library’s homepage set as the computer’s homepage. If not, type the library’s web address into the computer’s internet browser.
Do a title search.Do this if you know the title of the book you are looking for. Type the title of the book into the search box. Omit any a’s or the’s at the beginning of the title when you type it into the search box.
- For example, if the title of the book is “The Fall of the Roman Empire,” then type in “Fall of the Roman Empire.”
Search by the author.Do this if you cannot remember the book’s exact title, but you know the author’s name. Authors are usually listed by their last names, so either type in the author’s whole name, or just the last name. All of the works written by the author that the library has available will be listed.
- In addition to books, newspaper articles, conferences, and other books associated with the author will be listed. You can narrow down the search results by filtering the list. Filter the results by clicking on books.
- You can also use this method if you are interested in other books by a specific author. Type in the author’s name and look through the books that come up in the search engine.
Do a subject search.Do this if you do not have a specific book or author in mind, but you are interested in a particular subject. When searching by subject, use key words to narrow down your search.
- For example, if you are interested in immigration, then type in the search box “U.S. immigration,” “European immigration,” or “Mexican immigrants.”
Gathering Important Information
Click on the book’s title.Do this once you have found a book. You will be redirected to a new page that contains specific information about your book, like the book’s status and where it is located. To access this information, you may need to input an ID and password if you are at a private library, like a university library. If you are a student of the university or member of the library, then input your information.
- If you are at a public library, then you may not need to input an ID and password. If you do, then ask the librarian for this information.
Write down the book's location, call number and status.These are the three most important pieces of information that you need to write down. This information tells you where the book is located in the library and if it is available.
- For example, write down, location: Anderson Library Stacks, call number: QA 600.K57 2009, and status: available/unavailable.
- If your book is located in the “stacks," then it is a circulating book that can be checked out for a certain period of time like four weeks.
- If your book is in the “reserves,” a reference book, or in the “special collections,” then it can be checked out, however, it cannot be taken outside of the library.
Use the call number guide.Do this if your book is available (not checked out or missing). Identify the first two letters of the call number. Then find them on the guide. The guide will tell you which wing of the library the book is in and on what floor.
- For example, a book starting with QA may be in the blue wing on the fourth floor.
- Look for call number guides around the computers, or at the library's main desk.
Look at the library’s map.Do this if you are unsure where the blue wing is, for example. You can find maps at the main desk of the library. The map will outline how to get to the different wings of the library, using the main desk as the reference point.
- Alternatively, you can ask a staff member to direct you to the wing.
Finding the Book
Look at the labels at the end of the bookshelf.The bookshelf labels are organized alphabetically. Use these labels to locate which bookshelf your book is on. The labels typically contain a range of letters and numbers, for example, QA 100.74.B50 to QA 300.70.A30. If your book’s call number falls within the range, then begin looking through that bookshelf.
- For example, if your book’s call number is QA 200.86.S50, then it falls within the range and your book is located on that shelf.
Look at the numbers on the books’ spine.The books are also organized alphabetically, so use the call number to locate the book. The call number is typically located at the bottom of the book’s spine. The book's call number should match the call number in the system identically.
- Since books are organized by topic using the Library of Congress Classification System, try browsing the other books in the section you found your book in if you want more books on your topic.
Ask a staff member.Do this if you cannot find the book, but the system says it is available. The book may be misplaced, or perhaps you are looking in the wrong place. After all, most libraries are huge and it is easy to get confused. The staff member will go and look for the book for you.
- Tell the staff member, “I went to look for a book in the blue wing, but I could not find it. The system said it was available, but it was not there when I went to go look for it. Could you check for me?”
Request an interlibrary loan.If the librarian confirms that the book is missing or unavailable, then request an interlibrary loan. You or the librarian will need to fill out a request form detailing the name of the book, author and year it was published, as well as your contact information. It usually takes five to seven days for a book to arrive.
- An interlibrary loan allows you to check out a book from another library where the book is available.
QuestionHow do I identify a fiction book in the library?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can ask a Librarian to show you the Fiction section. However, if you have already found a book and are not sure if it is fiction or not, you can check a few places on the book to see. 1) The cover. Many times a book will say "A Novel" if it is fiction. 2) The back side of the title page. Look at the Library of Congress Cataloging Publication Data. After the subject there will be a dash, then the word "Fiction" if it is fiction.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I get to the library catalog on my iPhone?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSome libraries have an app, which you can find on their website or the app store. If your library doesn't have an app, you will have to visit the library website using the browser (e.g. Safari) on your iPhone.Thanks!
QuestionIs it free to get a book from a library?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, it is free to borrow a book from the library. If you don't return it on time, though, you may have to pay a fine.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I know if a book is in the library or not?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsually in a library there is a catalogue that lists all the books in circulation at a time. Using this catalogue, look up the book you would like to check out and look at its information. There is usually a count of how many copies the library owns and how many are checked out; if there is less checked out than the library owns, the book is still available for checkout.Thanks!
QuestionHow are biographical books labeled?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat depends on the library. Many libraries have a separate section for biographies, which are sorted by the last name of the person they are about.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do the numbers on the books mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe numbers are a way a library sorts books and is called the Dewey Decimal system. These numbers tell not only where the book should be housed on shelves, but what kind of material it contains. For example, books 000-099 are classified as Generalities, and usually consist of Encyclopedias, Newspapers, etc., while books 100-199 are Philosophy and Psychology, and so on.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the circulation section?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe circulation section of a library has many functions and is one of the key components of a library. Some functions include lending material, checking in material, maintaining shelves by replacing checked-in material and solving any conflicts that may appear, i.e. inappropriate patron actions, open drinks and/or food, high noise levels, etc.Thanks!
QuestionWhere do I put a book I am not checking out?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you have no intention of checking out the book, there are usually librarians who can reshelve the book for you around. Attempting to reshelve the book yourself often can lead to the book being misplaced and lost for a while.Thanks!
QuestionWhere are nonfiction books located?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere is a section just for non-fiction books, where they are ordered by their Dewey or LCON call number.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find a book in the card catalog when I only remember the author and not the title?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost library catalogs will allow a search by author. You can also ask a librarian who can tell you if the book is available at that library or not.Thanks!
How you would you locate a particular book in a library?
How can I find a book that is missing from the shelf without the numerical and alphabetic pattern?
Steps/process to get a library book from selection to the shelf?
Factors to consider when searching book in academic library?
What are the components of the card catalog system?
Sources and Citations
In other languages:
Español: , Italiano: , Português: , Русский: , Français: , Deutsch: , Bahasa Indonesia:
Video: Locating A Book
7 tips’ para que esta primavera tu piel brille más
How to Spot Fake All Star Converse
Woman leaves note for mean teenagers
The royal family has released these rare photos of the Queen on her 91st birthday
How to Make Healthy Trail Mix
Limited Edition Crème De La Mer Hits Stores To Celebrate World Ocean Day
How to Replace an Oven Element
In Fibromyalgia, Its Not the Weather
Natalie Umbruglia interview
What Is Squirting 5 Things You Didn’t Know About It—butShould
27 Terrific Shoulder Length Hairstyles To Make Your Look Special
How to Know What to Wear