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Getting Started in the Library

A guide for new students at the University of Tasmania

Academic books

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.

eBooks are books that can be read online or downloaded to your computer/mobile device temporarily - just like borrowing a print book from the Library.


Here are some of the different kinds of academic books you will find in the University Library:


Most of the books in the Library's main collection are available for loan.  Books in the Reserve and Reference collections have loan limits:

  • Reserve
    Reserve is a collection of books in each library branch that are in high demand - usually because they are on a Unit reading list. These items are available for 2 hour or 24 hour loan.
  • Reference
    The Reference collection in each library branch contains items like dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other titles that you may use to quickly look something up.  Reference materials are not available for loan and must be used within the library.

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.