How do I find books?

Don’t be embarrassed if you need help finding books – if you haven’t looked before, why would you know how to find them? Before reading more, though, it’s important to note: to get relevant search results, think about the words you type into the catalogue.  See the blog post on Keywords for help with this step.

To find books, you can start at one of two different places.  The first is the Beryl Ivey Library homepage: there you will see that the default search says “Search Summon for Books, Articles and More.”  As the title suggests, searching here brings up books, but it also brings up journal articles, government information, and everything else the library carries.  You can limit your results list to just “Books” using the refinement on the left of Summon (see screen shot below), but this isn’t always the most effective.

One of our lovely librarians finding a book in the stacks.

A better way to search for books is to start at the Shared Library Catalogue.  You can find this either from the Beryl Ivey homepage or from Western Libraries: click the “Catalogue” tab or head straight to:  The catalogue is a big list of what we own at every campus library (including Brescia, King’s, Huron and St. Peters; and Weldon, Taylor, Music, Law, Business, Education and the ARCC).

Once you’re at the Catalogue, try the following steps:

  1. Click the “keyword” tab to open that screen. Type in keywords that relate to your topic (e.g. diabetes AND treatment)
  2. Review the results.  These are displayed in order of relevancy (you’ll notice I did a poor search – 1560+ results is WAY too many!):Jul 17 - diabetes and treatment.jpg
  3. Click the title from your results page to find more information: Jul 31 - diabetes and treatment 2
  4. Look at the Location to find out which inter-campus library holds the book (in this case, the book is at Brescia, which is indicated through Brescia General Collection
  5. Click on the location to find out more information (i.e. in the above example, clicking on Brescia General Collection tells me where to go in the library to find the book)
  6. Record the Call Number if you want to go get the book yourself
  7. Make sure the book isn’t checked out (“In Library” means it’s on the shelf)
  8. Click the Request Itembutton at the top of the screen to have the book delivered to Brescia (or whichever library you’d like)
  9. Mark the book to put it in your “shopping cart.”  You can then email or print out your list for future use.

Looking for books the first time inevitably leads to other questions: what does “stacks” mean, how do you read a call number, etc. You can always come ask a librarian – but if you’re off-campus, a quick way to find these answers it to use the Ask service on Western Libraries’ website.

In order to get the results you want, it’s important to think about the words you use while searching.  See the blog post on “Keywords” to learn more about how the catalogue functions. In order to get the results you want, it’s important to think about the words you use while searching.  See the blog post on “Keywords” to learn more about how the catalogue functions.

Does Western subscribe to this journal?

The best way to find your answer is to head straight to the Shared Library Catalogue.  Change the search option to “Journal Title” and type in the exact name of the journal (including all the “ands” and “the’s”, etc).   This may even be necessary if you’ve found a journal article using Summon.

If your journal appears in the results list, or if the library record opens, then you know Western or the affiliates subscribes to  the journal currently, or has subscribed to the journal in the past.

If the journal doesn’t appear in the list, you’re sure you’ve typed it in correctly, and you get a screen like the one below, we do not have a subscription.

You’re not stuck at this point, though.  See the blog post on interlibrary loan, or ask a library staff member for more help!

What if something I need isn’t available at Western? (try Interlibrary Loan!)

Eventually,  it happens to everyone: you come across the perfect journal article or book, check the Shared Library Catalogue, and discover that Western and the affiliate colleges don’t have it.  Never fear, friends!  We have a service called Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

This service provides access to the library collections of many libraries across Ontario, Canada, the United States, and even internationally.  The other universities will photocopy the article you need, or ship the book here to Brescia, usually free of charge.

To use Interlibrary Loan, you must create a RACER account.  RACER is the name of the big program we use to search the catalogues of the participating libraries in the ILL program. RACER has an online guide for using their product, available here:

To register with RACER, and to find out more information, visit the Western Libraries’ website.  You are, of course, welcome to see any staff member in the Beryl Ivey Library too!