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Research Methods: Books

Basic Approach to a Research Project

Using Books for Research

Using Books for Background Information

Books are the best library resources for comprehensive information.  They tend to cover issues in depth and at great length.  However, they are not as current as sources in periodicals or the internet.  They are excellent for obtaining background information on a topic and to develop a list of relevant keywords with which to search.

In order to use a book effectively, you probably do not need to read the entire book.  Browse the Table of Contents at the front of the book for chapter contents, and the Index in the back of the book for the pages on which shorter amounts of information are located. 

Ask a librarian for assistance. See below an example of a quick search in the library catalog:

Library Catalog - use the Search Anything search scope to find all items the library has access to by topic. Be careful, this will retrieve thousands or millions of results!

Use the limiters on the left side of the page to limit results to books or articles or other sources:

Library Locations


  • Elizabeth Sturm Library, Dandini Campus (the Main Library)
  • Applied Technology Center (Edison Way)
  • Health Science Center (Redfield)
  • Meadowood Center

Library Reference Collection 

Reference books are condensed, authoritative books such as encyclopedias.  Many reference books contain primary sources and original documents. 

General Collection  

Modestly sized, very good collection, shelved mainly on the second floor of the Main Library.  Ask the Reference Librarians for assistance.  These books are allowed to leave the library.


How to Read a Call Number

Here is a sample book record with its call number:

Breaking down the Library Location and Call Number:

The book is located in the Reference section, because it is composed of short chapters on each type of critter, suitable for photocopying.  Reference Books are not allowed to leave the Library.

The call number:

Q                       Science

QE                     Geology

.L25                   L for author:  Lange, Ian

2002                  date of publicaton.

Library Book Call Numbers

Like most academic libraries, the TMCC Library system uses Library of Congress Call Numbers. 

The LC classification system groups together books on similar subjects by means of their call numbers. The call numbers are a sort of street address, while the library location is like the town.  Each book is clearly labeled with the call number on the spine or on the lower left on the front of the book.

LC Classification Outline

Click on a subject below to find out which more specific subjects fall under that heading. Links lead to the Library of Congress website.

A - General Works
    B - Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
    C - Auxiliary Sciences of History
    D - World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Etc.
    E - History of the Americas
    F - History of the Americas
    G - Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
    H - Social Sciences
    J - Political Science
    K - Law
    L - Education
    M - Music and Books on Music
    N - Fine Arts
    P - Language and Literature
    Q - Science
    R - Medicine
    S - Agriculture
    T - Technology
    U - Military Science
    V - Naval Science
    Z - Bibliography, Library Science, Information Resources (General)