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Research Essentials

Finding Books

If you are looking for a specific book:

  • Go to the library home page and enter the book title in OneSearch
  • If it is a short title or has only common words:
    • Put quotes around the title to search it as a phrase
    • Include the author's name and/or the publisher
  • Click to "Search"
  • On the results page, click the title of the book you want to see the full record of information about the book, the call number location of a print book in the library, or a link to access an e-book.

If you find lots of results and the book you want is not at or near the top:

  • On the left under "Refine My Results," click to select "Books - Print" and/or "Books - Electronic" (you may need to click to "Show more" to find those options)
  • At the bottom left, click to "Apply Filters" - this will limit your results to only books.



If you find an:

  • E-book
    • The "Online access" section in the full record will have one or more links to access the e-book.
  • Print book
    • For a book that is "Available at WU" note the
      • library (e.g., Olin or Sci Li)
      • location (e.g., Stacks or Oversize)
      • call number (a series of letters and numbers).
        See Locations & Floor Plans to find where in a library that location and call number can be found.

    • "Available at other libraries"
      • Click "Request print copy" to automatically fill out an interlibrary loan request (if you have not used interlibrary loan before, you may need to fill out a form with contact info first; fill out the form, then go back to "Request print copy").

To find books on a specific topic:

  • Use OneSearch (on the library home page) and search for keywords describing your topic.
  • On the page listing the results of your search, look on the left under "Refine My Results."
  • In the section for "Format," click to select "Books - Print" and/or "Books - Electronic" (you may need to click to "Show more" to find those options).
  • At the bottom left, click to "Apply Filters" - this will limit your results to only books.
  • At the top left under "Active filters," click to "Remember all filters." Then you can do more searches and find only books in your results.


Start with keywords

  • Think of different ways to describe your topic: note likely keywords to find in titles, descriptions, etc.
  • You may want to use a reference source (encyclopedia, dictionary, etc) for background or summary information on your topic to come up with good search terms.
  • Do several searches with different keywords and combinations of keywords.

Once you find a suitable book
or few, you can use it to find more like it:

Click the title to open the full record for the book, and look in the "Details" section for

  • Author
  • Subjects
  • Description

Author - Click the author's name to see if the library has any other books by that author

Subjects - These are standardized subject headings (from the Library of Congress's official list of subject terms) used as tags for books on that topic, regardless of what other terms or synonyms an author may have used. Click a subject heading to find all and only books tagged with that specific heading, or use terms from the subject headings in other keyword searches.

Description - Table of contents, or a brief abstract describing the book. In addition to letting you know more specifically what the book is about, you can find more keywords to search from the language and terms used by the author or publisher.


When you retrieve a print book from the library shelves, look around it on the shelf. Since books are shelved by subject, you might find more like it that you didn't find in OneSearch.

Or, use the "Virtual Browse" function in OneSearch at the bottom of the page for a full record of a book, to see other titles on the same or related subjects.

Not all books in Wesleyan's library are academic, scholarly books. The library acquires many different types of books for many different purposes reflecting a variety of viewpoints, ideas, and perspectives, so do not assume that just because a book is in a university library it is an academic, scholarly source.

But do not assume that a nonacademic book is not useful for an academic paper. For example, a book may provide a valuable perspective from an individual or community that is not well represented in academic work so far.

Here are some things to look for to determine whether a book is an academic, scholarly source:

Publsher - Is it a university or other academic press? (If you are unsure, search online for the publisher's web site or for others' comments or reviews of the publisher and its reputation.)

Author - Does the author have relevant credentials (e.g., a PhD in a relevant field)? Is the author affiliated with an academic or other scholarly institution? Is the author recognized by other scholars in the field (who has cited the book, are there book reviews)?

Bibliography - Look at the book's references. Does it cite scholarly journal articles, academic books, relevant primary sources?

Who has cited the book - Look up the book in Google Scholar. If there is a record for the book, check the "Cited by" link to see whether and how often it has been cited by articles in scholarly journals and other academic books.

Book reviews - On the library home page, look up the title of the book in OneSearch as an "Everything" search. On the results screen, there is an option on the left to limit results to "Reviews" (in the "Material Type" section).

Potential bias - Is the author, publisher, or the author's institution affiliated with an advocacy group, political party, religious organization, etc., that might affect or influence the contents and conclusions of the book?

When you find a print book in OneSearch that is "Available at WU", note the

  • library (e.g., Olin or Sci Li),
  • location (e.g., Stacks or Oversize) and
  • call number (a series of letters and numbers).


See the Library Floor Plans to find where in a library that location and call number can be found. There are also maps in various locations in the library.

Once you are in the right library and location, here's how to interpret a call number:

LD5901.W32 P683 2015

  • LD  --  Letters are shelved alphabetically, with a single letter coming first. So: 
                   L > LA > ... LD > ...
  • 5901  --  The first number is treated as a whole number, five thousand nine hundred and one. So: 
                   LD650 > LD5822 > LD5901 > ...
  • .W32  --  Letters are again alphabetical, but the second number is treated as a decimal, 'point' three two. So: 
                   .W2528 > .W32 > .W6 > .W793 
  • P683  --  Again with the alphabetical letters, and even though there is no decimal before the letter, the third number is also treated as a decimal. So: 
                   P3233 > P683 > P7
  • 2015  --  Date of publication, in chronological order. So:
                   Oh, this one is too obvious to bother illustrating

If a book in OneSearch is listed as "unavailable" -- usually because it is checked out -- you can place an interlibrary loan request and the library can borrow a copy from another library for you.

Click the title to get to the full record for the book and see the options available.

  • Make sure you are signed in to OneSearch:

Click to "Request print copy," then fill out the interlibrary loan form.