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How to find a book?



Investigate. If this is your first time in a library that is new to you, take some time to look around and get to know the place. Notice the signs in the building and the overall system. If it's a larger building, look for maps or directories near the entrance.

  • If you know the book's title, you can search for it. In a paper card catalog, you will search alphabetically. In general, though, ignore "a" or "the" if it is the first word. Thus, The Count of Monte Cristo will be filed alphabetically under "Count". Computerized catalogs vary, but you will usually select a title search and type in at least the first few words of the title.
  • Author search. If you know the author of the book, or if you are interested in other works by a favorite author, you can search for that. Authors are usually listed by their last names.
  • Subject search. If you know what you want to read about, or you're searching for particular information, but you don't know the title of a specific book, try a subject search. A subject that is too broad may turn up too many results, including other related subjects. A subject that is too narrow may not be cataloged. If you don't find quite what you want the first time, try searching on different words.
  • Keyword search. Most electronic catalogs will let you search on a keyword or words. For example, searching on the keyword "French" would find any book with that word in the title, be it about French cooking, French tourism.

Notice whether your book is checked out. Many computerized catalogs, especially, tie in to the circulation database to tell you whether a book is on the shelves or is unavailable. If it is checked out, seeing that now can save you a trip.

Make notes. When you find the book you want in the catalog, write down the call number and any other information about the location of the book. Most libraries offer scraps of paper near their catalogs. This information tells you where to find the book.

  • Remember that Non-fiction books will be shelved separately by some kind of classification system (the most popular are the Dewey Decimal System and the Library of Congress Classification system.) Each book is given a number according to its subject matter. The books are then arranged in order on the shelves by these numbers.
  • Fiction books are arranged alphabetically by the author's last name. If you look for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by title, the catalog will tell you to look for the book in the Fiction section under Adams. Some libraries divide out certain genres of fiction, such as mystery, romance, westerns and science fiction. If your book is one of these, write that down, too.

Go find the book(s) you have chosen. Follow the signs in the library, then the labels on the ends of the shelves, and then the labels on the spine of each book to locate your book.

  • Remember that if you have found a non-fiction book on a topic in which your are interested, only some of the rest of the library stock will also be in the same area. Oversize books and special collections may be housed elsewhere.

Consider new possibilities. If you're not sure what to read, there are many ways to find suggestions and possibilities in a library, too.

  • See what other books your favorite authors have written. Read the summaries or browse in the books to see if they interest you, and consider checking them out. Usually a writer that has written one good book probably has written more.
  • If you can't remember any particular author, just browse the shelf, picking up random books, reading the information inside the cover, reading the first page or more, to see if you are interested in the book. You can narrow it down by browsing in a particular section, genre, or subject that interests you.
  • Look at the library displays to see if any of the books featured there catch your interest. Also look around to see if there is a section or display for new books.
  • Try the reference section. The library has books there that list, categorize, index and rate books.
  • Tell a librarian what you like to read. he/she may be able to make some recommendations.
  • Look in the periodicals section, where you can find magazines with book reviews like Publisher's Weekly or even People and Rolling Stone. You could also check out the New York Times book reviews section. Or, see what magazines you gravitate towards and find out if there are books on those topics.
  • Check out the computer databases. Some U.S. libraries subscribe to a huge online database about books called NoveList, for example.
  • Look for award-winners. There are lists available of everything from Pulitzer winners to book club features. If you'd like to read something outside of your usual genres, award winners are a great place to start.
  • Reread an old favorite. Harry Potter is still light, fun reading.

Librarian : Langgeng