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SC 3953 (Research Methods in Strategic Communications): Finding a book

Why Books?

Books provide a great deal of background information for our research. They are full of research and other information you will want to incorporate into your assignments.

The OSU Library collection contains over 3 million books, and fortunately, they are not difficult to find by using a library catalog.


Library Catalog: The collection of records identifying and locating the items owned by a library is called its catalog. In the past, this would have been a large collection of drawers with cards called a card catalog. Each card contained the information needed to identify what the library owned and where it was located. Today, libraries have moved to an online catalog, where the bibliographic records are entered into a computer database, which can be searched to find desired information. At OSU, this catalog is known as the OSU Library Catalog.

Recall: When a recall is placed on an item, the person who currently has the book checked out receives a notice that they have two weeks to return the item, since someone else wishes to use it. Any library patron may recall an item.

Call Number: The unique address of a book in the stacks. The main system of call numbers used at Oklahoma State University Libraries is the Dewey Decimal system. An example of a Dewey call number is:



The top number is the subject identifier; other items on the same topic will be shelved in the same area. A chart of the Dewey Decimal numbers can be found here. Besides Dewey, there are several other call number systems in use at OSU. The Government Documents Department uses two different call number systems -- SuDocs numbers and Jackson Numbers. The Curriculum Materials Library uses a system found in many libraries to denote children's books of various reading levels. See also Library of Congress Classification System.

Call Slip: A small piece of paper that gives location information for items held by a library. In a "closed stack" system, call numbers for materials needed must be listed on the call slip then given to a library employee who will retrieve the materials for you. In an "open stack" system, the call slip indicates where call numbers are located in the building. In open stack systems, users can go to the floors and retrieve the materials themselves. OSU uses open stacks and users are welcome on all floors to browse the collection. In the OSU Library, call slips can be found by the OSU Online Catalog terminals, the reference and circulation desks.

Find A Book

To find a book in the OSU Library, we use the Library Catalog.

The OSU Library has two library catalogs:

  1. BOSS (Big Orange Search System)

The OSU Library collection contains more than just books. We can use the Library Catalog to find:

  • Journals, magazines and newspapers the Library subscribes to
  • Full text journals, magazines and newspapers
  • DVDs
  • Government Documents
  • Maps and Atlas Collections
  • Special Collections and University Archives (information about the history of OSU, etc.)

Locating Books in the Library

Once you have found some books in the OSU library catalog, you will need to find them in the Library.

All books have a call number and the library catalog will tell you a book's call number. It will also tell you if a bool is "available" or not. If the library catalog tells you that a book is available, print out or write down the call number (make sure to note the entire call number.)

Next, we need to determine which floor of the Library the book is located on. The Edmon Low Library has a collection that numbers around three million volumes, spread out on 6 floors. You will find call slips near all the computers in the reference area, as well as at the Reference Desk, and on walls near stairwells and evelvators.Call slips tell you what floor a call number is located on.

If you still aren't sure which floor to go to find a book, stop by the reference desk on the first floor and we'll be glad to help you. If you go to the shelf where that book is supposed to be, and you cannot find it, stop by the reference desk. We'll also be glad to go upstairs (or downstairs) to help you find it. We also know a lot of other places books might be, if they are not on the shelf. Ask us, and we'll be glad to show them to you!

If the book you need is checked out, you can request a recall. Come to the Circulation Desk and ask for a recall. We will contact the person who has that book checked out, and we will aske them to return it within two weeks. (Note: if you have a book checked out and we notify you about the book being placed on recall, know that the date due for the book may have changed.) Please pay attention to due dates which change for books that are recalled. Overdue fines for recalled books are $5 per day.

Circulation Information

Search Tips

Search Tips:

  • Spelling matters. If you find no (or few) matches to a keyword search, double check spelling.
  • If you find too many results, enter more keywords to be more specific.
  • If you find no results, remove some keywords (you're being too specific), or broaden the search.
  • When searching for titles, ignore A, An, and The when they start the title.

Combine terms with AND

For example: sexual health AND college students

Use OR to broaden the search

For example: (smoking OR tobacco) AND health

Truncation - the addition of a symbol (usually an asterisk *) at the beginning or end of a word stem in a keyword search to retrieve variants containing the root. For example, truncation is particularly useful in retrieving singular and plural versions of words.

Example: librar* would find library, libraries, librarian, librariana, librarianship, etc.