How to use resources: Finding books

Finding books on the catalogue

Textbooks and books are important academic sources. Written by experts, they provide a high quality overview of a topic, identifying key figures, areas of study and important debates to help you develop a general understanding of your subject. They also include references to further reading and research. 

To find out what books we have in our collections you can search in the Library catalogue. The catalogue contains records of the physical books, monographs and textbooks you will find in the Library building, as well as links to our digital books. It also includes information on audio-visual collections, print journals and other items you can access in the Library building. 

To search the catalogue you can use the title of the work, author names or keywords about your topic.

This will show you a list of books you can access via the Library. You will also find some basic author, subject and year filters to narrow your search results list.

Select the relevant title to learn more about where it is located and how it can be borrowed.

For online books you will instead see the option of 'Electronic Access' this will allow you to view and open the digital copy.  

Finding books in the Library

Books in the Library are arranged by shelf number (the unique code on the spine of each book, also know as classmark or shelfmark). Shelf numbers are alphanumeric. They usually start with some letters that designation the subject area, then follow with detail on the author name and finally the year of publication. Knowing the shelf number will help you find the book's position on the shelf. 

An example shelf number for the book The Study Skills Handbook would be:

LB2395.C67 2019

  • LB2395 - Relates to books about the theory of education
  • C67 - Refers to the author's surname, Cottrell
  • 2019 - Is the year of publication for the book. 

You don't need to understand all the nuances of the elements of the shelf number, but it is a good idea to take note of the code when you are looking for the book. 

The shelf number ranges for each floor are detailed below Finding a Book guide

This guide details the shelf ranges found on the four floors of the Library

To find the book on the shelf, go to the floor where the start of your shelf number is located. 

Floor 3: The Law Library (includes books and journals of shelf number K); journals with shelf number A-Z.

Floor 2: Books with shelf number J-Z.

Floor 1: Books with shelf number A-H.

Ground floor: Help desks: Library Welcome Desk, Library Help Desk, IT Help Desk (in the foyer).

Then have a look at the ends of the shelves to see what range of shelf numbers are on that unit. You will also find a helpful 'See map' option on the Library catalogue record, which will give you a 3D map of the location of the book. 

Shelfmarks made easy

Reserving a book

If all copies of the book you want are out on loan, you can reserve a copy. You can do this by selecting the 'Click & Collect' option on the book record. This will trigger a request to the user who has borrowed the book asking them to return it within a specific timeframe.

As soon as a copy becomes available we will email you to let you know that it is available for collection. Titles will be kept for seven days and are availabe for collection from the Help Desk.

Alternatively, let us know your mobile number and we can text when your reservation is available. For more information on borrowing books, see our borrowing webpage.

Search tips

Here are some search tips to get you started when using the Library Search discovery layer:

Tip 1: Narrow your search
Your initial search will look for books, journal articles, newspapers etc, so you might get lots of results. To narrow your search, check the options down the left hand side, for example:

  • Content type – select what you need eg 'book/e-book'
  • Refine your search - eg 'items with full-text online'. This will limit your search to online full-text items.

Tip 2: Add more keywords
Depending on what you're looking for, you may have to add more keywords or add the author's surname eg 'sociology fulcher'. This is a more detailed search rather than just searching for 'sociology'

Tip 3: "Quotation marks" 
When searching for phrases, it can be useful to enclose them in quotation marks eg "higher education".  This will look for the phrase 'higher education' rather than the individual words, 'higher' and 'education'.

And last, but certainly not least:

Tip 4: Review your keywords!
The Library Search will only find what you tell it to search for. If it doesn’t find what you need, review your keywords. Remember, when searching for books, make your keywords quite general; you can be more detailed when searching for journal articles.

Search Library resources

Our discovery tool, Library Search, will look for books, journal articles and more in one quick easy search - a great place to start your research. The results list also includes full-text links to subscribed content, like articles and textbooks. 

To search Library 'Search all' you can use keywords relevant to your topic, author names or the title of the source. 


For a more comprehensive search, individual databases offer greater functionality and give full access to a tailored suite of resources for your subject. To find out the database available in your subject, look for your programme in our Subject Guides, or you can view and access all our Databases alphabetically on the Databases A-Z webpage.

Search for books only (does not include all electronic books):

Search for full-text articles:

Search or browse for journals/periodicals:

Journal title begins with

Browse periodicals by subject

Browse periodical titles

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