Finding Books

This page describes how to locate books in the SUNY Adirondack Library.

Finding Books on the Shelves

To find a book:

  • go to the SUNY Adirondack Library webpage.
  • In the "Start Your Research Here" box, type in a word or two - a subject, title or author, then hit search
  • To limit your research to circulating books (books you can borrow), under "Library Location" on the left column, click "Circulating." 
  • If you do not find what you need, a reference librarian can help you!

To find more books:

  • Change your search terms or broaden your subject. Books tend to be listed under broader topics. Ask a librarian for ideas. 
  • Use truncation (a wildcard ending to a word, usually an asterisk: nurs* retrieves books with the terms nursing, nurses, etc.).

When you find a listing for a book that suits your needs, write down or take a photo of the book’s entire call number (the series of letters and numbers, like this: QL681 .S497 2014). Go to that area of the book stacks. The librarian at the reference desk is happy to help you. 

What kinds of books are there?

The SUNY Adirondack Library has reference books, circulating books, and electronic books. 

  • Reference books are usually consulted for fast facts and summaries: encyclopedias, atlases, dictionaries, statistics. They are for library use only and may not be borrowed. The call numbers begin with “Ref.” and the books have a bright yellow label.
    • The library subscribes to many of these online thought the Gale Virtual Reference Library and other databases. 
  • Circulating books may be borrowed with a student ID card or community borrower card. These are books to take home and read more thoroughly.
  • Electronic books offer a link to the full-text of a book. You can read the book on the screen or download chapters. 
    • If off-campus, log in with your college username and password if prompted. Ebooks are from a subscription database. 

On the main floor of the library, you'll find: 

  • Books on Reserve (course reserves), at the circulation desk, and 
  • the Hill Collection (local history books), in a room beyond the writing center

Library of Congress Call Numbers

Most college libraries use the Library of Congress call numbers to arrange books by subject. It uses letters and then numbers to represent the subjects of books. Just use the code to go alphabetically and then numerically to find a book on the shelves. 

The other system used in American libraries is the Dewey Decimal system. It uses a simple number code to represent subjects. It is often used in smaller libraries, such as high school and public libraries. Both systems were created more than 100 years ago and serve a similar purpose to organize books by a subject code. 

Here are SUNY Adirondack Library's printable two-page handout about the Library of Congress call numbers, and video about how the system works. 

How do I find a book using call numbers?

  • Call numbers are located on the spines of the books. 
  • Books are arranged in call number order on the upper level of the library.
  • Look for the signs on each shelving row. 
  • Read the call number line by line, going alphabetically then numerically. 
    • Example: To find a book with the call number HB 171.5 .H79 2010,  first find the H section, then the HA's, then the HB's. Then find the HB 171 area. (Note: numbers following a decimal point should be read as decimals.)
    • See this video for details: