Sometimes people shy away from books because they are longer to read than a journal article. While this might be technically true, there are some tricks you can use to understand a book's structure and argument, so you DON'T have to read the whole thing.
Once you have a good idea of the book's structure and argument through skimming, you can narrow in on the portions of the text most useful for your research.
Serendipity plays a big role in research. When looking for books, you may want to start by searching the catalog - but once you find a book that looks promising, browse the section of shelves around it. Our library uses the Library of Congress system, which puts books on the same topic near each other. You may want to browse for your call number in more than one section: the general collection, oversized, reference.
Some topics are more easily browsed than others. For example, books by and about a particular writer are shelved together, but books on interdisciplinary subjects, such as environmental science, may be in several places.
Keep an eye out for current books as you scan the shelves. One easy tip for doing that is to look at the call number labels. In recent years, call numbers end with the year of publication. This makes it easy to see if a book is current without having to open it up and look at the back of the title page.
To find books in our library, search the Library Catalog - you can also search directly via the search box on the library's homepage. Use our guide to finding books for more on how to use the online catalog and find books on the shelves.
When you find books that look useful, write down the Collection & the Call Number.
General Collection, call numbers A - PQ are on the Third Floor
General Collection, call numbers PR - Z are on the Second (Main) Floor
Oversize are on the Third Floor, Beck Hall side
Reference are on the Second (Main) Floor, Beck Hall side
Browsing are on the Second (Main) Floor near the entrance
Young Adult & Children's Books are on the First Floor
AV materials (DVDs, etc) are on the First Floor
Once you are in the right area, signs on the sides of the shelves will direct you further. The system is a little tricky to figure out at first, so don't hesitate to ask for directions at the Information Desk (main floor of the library).
Browse the shelves when you find a useful book. Books are shelved according to topic, so chances are you'll find other relevant books nearby.
You can check books out at the Information Desk. This page has information about loan periods, renewals, etc.
You can (and should) also search for books in other libraries. To do this, use the advanced search in the library catalog. Scroll down to select "Libraries WorldWide."