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How to Find and Evaluate Books

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The surest way to find books is to search the UCLA Library catalog and other online catalogs. The box to the right links to and gives a description of the various available catalogs. The boxes below it gives tips for general book searching.

TIP! Write down the call numbers and locations of books. Also note if the status says checked out or not.

Here are some other tips for locating and evaluating books:


Online books owned by UCLA are listed in the Library Catalog along with print books. Alternately you can search directly on one of the major e-book sites (with the caveat that we don't subscribe to everything they list).

Tips for General Book Searching

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When searching for books, there are a few useful starting strategies to keep in mind:

*Searching a library catalog is different from searching Google or full text databases. The data provided is usually quite basic and includes title, author, subject, and sometimes table of contents. You may need to broaden your search or try alternate keywords (e.g., synonyms or related terms) before finding books on a particular topic.

*Most library catalogs DO NOT contain articles or article indexing. Instead, they will tell you if the library has a subscription to a specific journal or magazine and if this includes any electronic access. Use an article database to find specific journal articles.

*If you already have a relevant book or article in hand, use its bibliography to find other sources on the same topic.

*If you find a relevant book in the catalog, look at the subject headings (under Subject(s)). Most books are assigned subject headings, and if you click on a heading, it will lead you to a list of books on that same topic.

*If you have the call number of a relevant book, you can also look in the stacks and browse through nearby books. As books are given call numbers by subject, the books near it are often on the same topic.

*Do a subject word (not just a keyword) search in a catalog. The Research Library has print copies of Library of Congress subject headings available, and advanced researchers may also want to consult the LC Authorities catalog to locate subject headings on different topics.

Note: Due to major space restrictions in the Library, note that some materials may be located at the Southern Regional Library Facility, or SRLF. These can usually be requested via the UCLA Library Catalog and are usually available for pickup within 48 hours at one of the UCLA Libraries. If the Library does not own a book, it can usually be requested through interlibrary loan.

Recommend a New Book

Is there a reference resource that you think the library should have?