Main Body

2 Find Print Books in the Library

Smart keyword searching in library catalogs is a good way to discover what books have been written about a topic. After doing a keyword search in our library catalog OneSearch, limit to print books and “sort” the results by author, date, relevance, or title to find scholarly literature related to your keywords.

In this section, we focus on limiting your search to the print book collection. Take note of the call number in order to find a book on shelf. Going into the library stacks to find a book is a wonderful research behavior that enables serendipitous browsing and the possibility of discovering hidden treasure. Sometimes you won’t need to physically go and get a book on the shelf, but knowing it exists, figuring out what it’s about, and being able to interpret the call number can inform your research nevertheless.


Learning Objectives

  • Use OneSearch to limit to the print book collection.
  • Interpret book records in OneSearch to determine availability, shelf location, and call number.
  • Be able to find print books on shelf in the library, especially in the Main Book Collection.
  • Be able to read call numbers using the Library of Congress classification system.

Finding a Print Book, 1 min 48 sec

Limit Your Search to Print Books

There are two main ways you can limit a search in OneSearch to the print book collection:

  • Use the facets at left, as demonstrated in the video, to limit your search results to:
    • Library: CC – Shain Library
    • Material Type: Books – Print

Picture of Library and Material Type search facets.

  • Once you’re inside OneSearch, when typing new keywords into the search box, select Conn Coll Books and Media from the dropdown menu

Picture of OneSearch dropdown menu.


The second method listed above will still include ebooks and videos, but it gets you much closer to the print book collection than not using the dropdown filter would.

Once you’ve applied either of these two search limiters to your keywords, you’re pretty much ready to start scanning through the results.

Reading Book Records in OneSearch

What to look for in a book record:

  • Is a book available?
  • In what location?
  • What’s the call number?
  • What floor is it on?

By clicking on the information (i) buttons below, you can see where these important pieces of information are listed on a book record.


Now let’s practice identifying call numbers in the exercise below. If you can name the first letter of a call number, then you’re on your way to finding print books in the library (Hint: type Ctrl/Command+ or – on your keyboard to make the images larger or smaller).



Beyond these logistical details in a book record, of course, there is another kind of information displayed that is useful for evaluating each book. This other information could include:

  • the author
  • the title
  • the publisher
  • the publication date
  • the contents note
  • etc.

For now, let’s stick with the basics of finding print books.

Library of Congress Classification System

The Main Book Collection in Shain Library is really just the largest, most accessible location of books in the library, and it happens to be organized according to the Library of Congress (LoC) Classification system. Books in other library locations can be organized according to other classification systems (e.g. Archives, Dewey, Gov Docs, Greer Music, etc.).

Within the LoC system, a call number is like an address for a book. It describes the relative location of a book on a library shelf. It also tells you something about the subject matter of the book according to the outline of LoC classification pictured below:

Library of Congress Classification Outline

Finding a Book in the stacks at Shain Library

Book shelves at Shain Library

The shelves of the Main Book Collection are arranged in call number order.

  • A-G on the 2nd floor
  • H-Z on the 3rd floor.

Call numbers are put in order alphabetically first, then numerically according to the parts of each call number.

If you scroll down toward the bottom of each book record in OneSearch, there is a virtual browse feature that lets you see on the computer what books are shelved on either side of a book. Can you open this link to the book record for Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved and, using the virtual browse feature, name the two books that are on either side of the novel? (Hint: other editions of Beloved don’t count)


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Library Research: The Basics Connecticut College by Research Support, Information Services, Connecticut College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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