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DEVS 100: Library Tutorial

Finding Books


To find books in Queen's Library you can search QCAT. QCAT is the Queen's Library Online Catalogue. It is a searchable database that lists materials (books, journals, magazines, newspapers, videos, government documents, maps, microfilm and much more) found in all the libraries at Queen’s. QCAT also contains the names of the electronic resources to which Queen's Library subscribes, such as electronic journals and books. QCAT does not contain articles. To locate articles, use an index/article database or Summon.

In this module, we will look at three of the most commonly used search options for finding books: title, author, and keyword/keyword Boolean. We will examine the different parts of the library catalogue record, how to read a call number and how to locate a book in the Library. To wrap up this module, we will look at using Summon to locate books.

Library Books

Access the Library Catalogue from the Queen's Library Homepage. Select QCAT Catalogue tab. Either enter your search terms in the search box provided and select the type of search you are doing, or click Full Catalogue for more choices.

You can search QCAT in several different ways including: by keyword, keyword Boolean, title keyword, title exact, journal title exact, author and subject heading. You can also limit your search to a specific format (for instance, Videos/DVDs/Streaming video).

Keyword search

  1. Enter your search in the Search box
  2. Select the type of search in the within box
  3. Click the Search box to begin searching

When you know the exact title of the book (or other item) that you need, you can perform a title search.

[Book: Aid, NGOs and the realities of women's lives] Here's an example of a reference (also known as a citation) to a book:

Stevens, Stan, ed.  2014. Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas : A New Paradigm Linking Conservation, Culture, and Rights. Tucson : The University of Arizona Press. 


To locate this item in the Library Catalogue:

  • Enter title in the Search box
  • Select Title Exact in the within box
  • Click the Search box to begin searching


QCAT image

Tips for Title Searches:

  • Omit initial articles (a, an, the, etc.)
  • Capitalization is not necessary
  • Exact word order is necessary, but you don’t need to enter the full title (which is especially useful when the title is very long).

When you want to find out what Queen's Library owns by a particular author, or, if the title is common, perform an author search.

A search for books written by the Karl Marx would be entered as follows:

QCAT author search

Enter the author’s name (last name, first name) in the Searchbox

  • Select Author in the within box
  • Click the Search box to begin searching
  • Click the author's name in the search results to be presented with the title or titles owned by the Library

 TKarl Marxips for Author Searches:

  •  Always type the last name of the author first, followed by a first name or initial
  •  The name may be entered with or without the comma
  •  Use a space for a hyphenated name
  •  Capitalization is not necessary

When searching for books on a topic, rather than for a specific title or author, search the Library catalogue using one of the keyword search options. Keywords are taken from many parts of the catalogue record including the title, author, subject headings and table of contents fields.

There are two keyword search options available in QCAT: keyword and keyword Boolean.

Keyword Boolean

A keyword search works much the same way as a search in a web search engine, where "AND" is assumed between your keywords. A keyword search using Boolean operators allows you to combine your search terms and get more precise results, and this is the type of keyword search this tutorial will address. 

Use and to combine search terms and narrow results
Use or to expand search results by searching for two or more related concepts (or synonyms) simultaneously
Use not to narrow search results (it is generally better to use "not" sparingly, if at all)
Truncate words by using ?: cultur? (finds culture, cultures, cultural, etc.)
Search phrases by using quotes: "social justice"
Group search terms by using parentheses: (child? or teen?) and "social inequality”

Example: a keyword boolean search in QCAT for material about what effect poverty has on the health of the elderly could be phrased as:

(poverty or poor) and (elderly or aging or aged) and health?

Keyword Search

So far in this module we have looked at how to do a title search, an author search, and a keyword Boolean search. Now, let's examine the catalogue record that is retrieved when you perform a search and select an item.

Library Catalogue record

The Catalogue record provides you with citation information: author, title, publisher, place and date of publication. Status tells you if the book is available, Location tells you in which library the book is located, and call number tells you where the book is located on the Library's shelves. Before turning to an examination of how to read a call number, it is important to consider the Subjects assigned to an item.

Subject Headings

The subjects or subject headings assigned to a book are done so using a strict, controlled vocabulary. For this reason, subject headings are not always obvious, which is why a keyword search on your topic is recommended over a subject heading search. However, once you have located a book of interest through a title, author or keyword search, the subject headings become very useful. If a subject heading describes what you are looking for, click on it to find additional items on your topic, or use the subject headings to give you ideas for other words to use in your keyword searches.

When you have located an item you want in the Library catalogue, it is important to record the call number, for the call number is like an address as to the exact location of the book on the Library's shelves.

Understanding call numbers

Call numbers in academic libraries are based on the Library of Congress (LC) Classification system. This A to Z classification scheme organizes books by main subject, so that books on similar topics will be shelved together. Once you have located the book you want on the Library’s shelves, you can browse the shelves in the same area for additional books on your topic. Clicking "show on floorplan" provides information about the library, floor, and general area where the item is shelved.

Development Studies is an interdisciplinary field with components in many areas. The following is a partial breakdown of the Library of Congress Subject classification for “J” Political Science:


Political Science (General) JA
Political institutions and public administration JF
Political institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, etc.) JQ
Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration JV
International relations JZ


International relations, or JZ, can be further broken down into subjects:

Library of Congress

Reading Call Numbers

The first letter of a call number represents one of the 21 major divisions of the Library of Congress Classification System. The subject "J" is Political Science. The second letter "V" represents a subdivision of Political Science, International relations. All books classified in the JV's are primarily about International relations.

reading call numbers

  1. Books are shelved alphabetically by the first letter or letters
  2. Books are then arranged numerically by the number following the letter(s)
  1. Books are then shelved alphabetically by the next letter and decimally by the following number.

There are thousands of electronic books (or "e-books") available at Queen's Library. There are several ways you can locate them.

From within QCAT, you can limit your search to E-Books:


You can also search e-book subscription packages directly. The following collections are particularly useful for research in Global Development Studies:

You can also locate e-books (as well as print books) by using Summon, the library's search engine.

Summon is the library’s search engine, which enables a simultaneous search of QCAT and many of the library’s online collections from a single search box. Summon contains everything found in QCAT, plus much online full-text content available from the Library including articles, journals, conference proceedings, digital primary source material, electronic books and newspapers, theses and dissertations, multimedia and more.

Access and search Summon from the search box on the library’s homepage:

Executing a basic search in Summon (which is also the default search on the library homepage) will return results that pick up your topic words anywhere in the item’s record (title, author, publisher, table of contents) and in the case of articles, somewhere in the article's full text.

Use the Advanced search option in Summon to execute a more precise search (eg. author, keywords in title, date range of publication, etc.), and/or apply a limit to what search results will be returned (such as format type, scholarly materials, items in QCAT only).

Summon advanced

Summon Search Tips

  • Note that the Boolean operator OR has to be capitalized in Summon.
  • Use the facets on the left-hand side of the search results page to refine or narrow your search results. For instance, selecting Books (or E-Books) from the Content Type facet:

Click the item title in your Summon result list to enter the QCAT record for the item.

This concludes this module called "Finding Books." We now turn out attention to finding articles using library databases.