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Library Research Basics: Books

Tips on how to find books and articles in the library and on how to research and write a paper.

How to Find Books

Use OneSearch to find books and e-books, videos, articles, digital media, and more. Make sure you sign-in with your CWID to get the best user experience. To search for books in the library's print collection, choose "Library Catalog" from the drop-down menu as shown below:

OneSearch Find Books

Once you click on a book's title from the list of search results, you'll see the following information:

item catalog record

  • Send To allows you to print out the record, automatically cite it in MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, or Harvard styles, create a direct link to the item, or email the record to yourself.
  • Get It shows the basic information about the book: the location, call number, availability, and loan period. This is the information you use to find the physical book in the Library.
  • Details provides all the publication information for item, plus the item's subject headings, which are clickable links and may give you ideas for other searches to try. Details may also include a description and the table of contents.

Books that are available to be checked out are located in the STACKS. Ask a librarian to point you in the right direction.

Finding a Book by Call Number

Anatomy of a Library of Congress Call NumberBook cover

The books in our library are shelved by call number (in the stacks: the bookshelves under the mezzanine and in the east end of the Library), using Library of Congress Classification.

Book title: Discovering the Great Masters
Author: Paul Crenshaw
Call Number: ND1145 .C74 2009

The first two lines describe the subject of the book.
ND = Fine Arts
1145 = Painting

The third line often represents the author's last name.
C= Crenshaw

The last line represents the date of publication.

Finding Books on the Shelf

Read call numbers line by line.

Read the first line in alphabetical order:
A, B, BF, C, L, LA, LB, LC, M, N...

Read the second line as a whole number:
1, 2, 3, 45, 100, 101, 1000, 1145, 2430...

The third line is the trickiest part of the call number! Read the letter alphabetically.
Read the number as a decimal:
.C524 will come before .C74 (read them as .C524 and .C740)

Some call numbers have more than one combination letter-number line.

The last line is the year the book was published. Read in chronological order:
1985, 1991, 2009...

Advanced Search in OneSearch

You can use the Advanced Search option in OneSearch if you want to do a more specific search. Click on Advanced Search to the right of the search box (as shown below circled in yellow):

Advanced Search

Using the advanced search, you can search by any combination of keyword, author, title, or subject. You also have the option to limit by material type (such as book, e-book, video, etc.), language, date and more.

You can also use the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT to narrow or broaden your search.

Advanced Search Options


The Foothill Library has thousands of eBooks available for you to use. To find eBooks via OneSearch, limit your results by Availability and Resource Type as shown below:

limit ebooks

Or, you can search the library's online ebook databases directly:

Free Learning Materials

Go to Foothill College's Free and Open Learning Materials page to find free textbooks and educational videos that are openly licensed for use, remixing, and sharing.