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Discover the Library: Print Books

Finding Print Books

When we think of libraries, we often think of books; printed publications which consist of bound pages and a cover. Scholarly print books can typically be categorised as either Monographs or Textbooks.

Monographs focus on a single topic or subject in-depth. They are scholarly works written by an author or a small group of authors and provide a comprehensive examination of a particular subject area. Monographs often present original research, analysis, or critical evaluations and are intended for a specialized audience, such as researchers, academics, or professionals within a specific field.

Textbooks, on the other hand, are print books designed specifically for educational purposes. They are created to support the learning and instruction of a particular subject or course. Textbooks generally follow a structured curriculum and provide explanations, examples, exercises, and other educational resources to facilitate the comprehension and study of a subject. They are commonly used in academic settings, such as schools, colleges, and universities, to aid students in their learning process.

Locating Print Books in the Library

Print books in libraries are organized on shelves using the Dewey Decimal System, a classification system that categorizes books by subject. Each book is assigned a specific number, known as a class mark, based on its subject matter. Books with the same number are further arranged alphabetically by the author's last name. To facilitate easy identification, each book is labelled on its spine with its Dewey Decimal number and the first three letters of the author's last name (e.g., 325.2305 SMI).


Search Discovery

Before attempting to find a book on the shelf, you should search for it in Discovery. You can do this simply by typing the book title, author, or ISBN into the search bar. If you’d like to browse a section of the library for books on a particular topic, you should conduct a keyword search in Discovery. This can be achieved by identifying a word (e.g., marketing) which relates to the topic of the books you would like to find. This will help you identify where books on this topic are shelved.

Confirm book availability

It’s really frustrating to come all the way to the library, only to find the book you wanted has been checked out by someone else. Before looking for a book on the shelf, you should confirm that it is stocked in the library and available. Find the correct title on the Discovery result page and look for the green tick.

If the book record displays a red stop sign, the item is not currently available. In this instance, you may wish to place a reservation on the item. If you can’t find the book you’re looking for, it might not be in stock. In this instance, you may wish to submit a resource request for the item.

Confirm book location

Having established that the book is in stock and available, you now need to identify where in the library it's located. First, identify the shelving location, indicated below. Most items will be shelved in the Main Book Area, but some titles may be in the Postgraduate Study Room, PC Suite, or On Display.

Next, identify the book’s call number, indicated below. This is a combination of numbers and letters which signify topic and the first three letters of the author’s last name. Make a note of this – you'll need it later!

Locate book on the shelf

  • The Dewey Decimal System is organized into ten main classes, represented by the numbers 000 to 999. Each main class covers a broad subject area. Determine the main class of the book based on its call number.
  • Within each main class, books are further subdivided into narrower sections. Look for signage (at the end of each shelf) indicating the ranges of numbers within each section. Find the range that corresponds to the first one or two digits of the call number.
  • Once you have identified the correct section, you will need to narrow down your search within that section. Examine the remaining digits or letters in the call number to identify the subsection or specific topic. Again, consult the signage or labels to guide you to the appropriate subsection.
  • Within the subsection, books are typically arranged in ascending order based on their call numbers. Scan the shelf, moving from left to locate the specific call number you are seeking. Pay attention to any additional information, such as author names or book titles, to ensure you find the correct book.

Loan Types

3-Week Loan



3-week loan items are indicated by a green spine label; the loan type is also specified on the first page after the front cover.

3-week loan items are issued for three weeks.

All 3-week loan items renew automatically for up to one year unless they are reserved by another user.

1-Week Loan



1-week loan items are indicated by a yellow spine label; the loan type is also specified on the first page after the front cover.

1-week loan items are issued for one week.

All 1-week loans renew automatically for up to one year unless they are reserved by another user.

24-Hour Loan



24-Hour Loan items are indicated by a blue spine label; the loan type is also specified on the first page after the front cover.

24-Hour Loan items are issued for 1 day.

24-Hour Loan items can only be renewed once.


Reference Only



Reference items are indicated by a red spine label; the loan type is also specified on the first page after the front cover.

Reference Only items are not available for loan; they are to be used exclusively in the library building.

Photocopies and scans can be taken in accordance with copyright legislation.