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Your guide to finding high quality academic literature

Books / eBooks
Far from being old fashioned or outmoded, books are vital sources for your studies.

Books can give you an overview or working knowledge of your topic, or they can provide a depth of coverage on a specific subject that cannot be matched anywhere else.

  • In libraries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, manuals, and atlases are known as reference books.
  • Reference books may be general, covering a wide range of subjects, or they may be very specific.
  • They can be most useful at the beginning of your research to find definitions and get an overview of your research topic.
  • To find reference books in the library, use the Library catalogue and include words like 'dictionary' or 'encyclopedia' in your search.
  • Basic texts are designed to introduce you to new subject, and you will often find them listed as set texts or recommended reading for your units.

  • They can be useful at the beginning of your research process to get a working knowledge of the topic you are trying to write about, and understand where it fits into the subject as a whole.
  • Edited books are collections of chapters by different authors (usually experts in their field) that have been put together by an editor or editors.
  • This can give you a number of different perspectives on the same topic.  You may even find that different authors hold opposing views.
  • A monograph is a detailed study of a single subject, written by an expert author (or group of authors).

How do I find books?

  • The easiest way to find books and ebooks is to search the Library catalogue.

  • You can also find books using MegaSearch, but remember to limit your results to Books and/or eBooks using the Source Types menu on the right of the results list.

Call Numbers

Libraries use something called a Classification System to arrange books on the shelves so that titles on the same subject are shelved together.  The UTAS Library uses the Library of Congress system, while most public and school libraries use the Dewey Decimal system.

All library classification systems use Call Numbers to tell you where to find a book, journal, or CD/DVD on the Library shelves.

On the screen, LC call numbers look like this: JZ 1318 .M36 2010

On the spine of a book they look like this:

Each call number starts with a letter code for a broad subject area, then each line narrows the focus until you have a unique number for each title.  It's a bit like looking for a street address in a city - you need to know the suburb, the street, and the house number:
JZ          Suburb
1318      Street
.M36      House number

How to find books on the shelves (PDF 239KB) - learn how to read a call number line by line.