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Library Research Tutorials

If you are looking for books, the best place to search is using the library catalog. Here's how to find a book if you know the title:

Step 1: Search the Catalog

To search the catalog from the library homepage, select the "Search books, journals, DVDs, etc." drop-down menu. If you know the title of the book, select "Title" from the drop-down menu, enter the title in the space provided, and hit "Search". I'm going to search for "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami.

Aanimated GIF showing where to click on the library homepage to search the catalog and do a title search fro "the wind-up bird chronicle."

Step 2: Review Your Results
The results page will likely have more than one result, since we have so many items (more than five million!) in our collection. This is especially true for books with more general titles (more on that later), but "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" is a rather unique title. Here we only have one result, and based on the title and author, it looks as if this is the right book.

Annotated image showing the search results page for a title search of "the wind-up bird chronicle." A colored box and arrow indicate where to read the title, author, and publication information.

Step 3: Check Availability

Before you head to the shelves to pick up your book, check to make sure it's available and not checked out or missing. It looks as if our copy of "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" is lost. If this book were listed as "Available," you could pick it up on Olin Level A.

Annotated image showing the search results page for a title search of "the wind-up bird chronicle." A colored box and arrows indicate the book's location, call number, and availability. In this example, the book is marked as "lost."

Step 4: Find the Book with the Call Number, or

If "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" were available, you could find it on on Olin Level A using the call number PL856.U673 N4513 1998. The call number is like the book's address on the shelves and is read one line at a time. For this example, we can break the call number into four lines:


To find this book on the shelf, read the call number one line at a time. Books are arranged in alphabetical order by the letters of the first call number, so in this example all of the P call numbers are first, followed by all the PA call numbers, then PB, and so on until PZ and then Q.

Once you find the PL section, move on to the number: in this example 856. Within a letter range such as PL the books are arranged in ascending numerical order, from low to high. Then, once you have found PL856, continue to the second next line and repeat the process until you get to PL.U673.

You're almost there! Now on the third line, repeat the process, except the numbers on the third line are not WHOLE numbers, but DECIMAL numbers, so N4513 is actually N.4513, and comes before N46, which is actually N.4600.

Step 5: Place a Request

Since "the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" is not available, the best way to get a copy would be to request a copy from another library using MOBIUS. Please see our guide for how to Request a Book with MOBIUS. 

Last Updated: 12/27/2016

If you are doing research, you may want to find books on your topic even if you don't know any specific  titles or authors. Here's how you can use subject headings to find books on your topic:

Step 1: Search by Subject

To search for a book on a specific topic, select "Search books, journals, DVDs, etc." on the library homepage. Choose "Subject" from the drop-down menu, enter your topic in the space provided, and hit "Search." I'm going to search for books on "climate change."

An animated GIF showing a subject search of the library catalog.

Step 2: Review Your Results

​Unlike a general search, you won't see any books on the results page for a subject search. Instead, your search will return a list of subject headings, which you can use to more quickly focus on a more narrow part of your topic, such as "--economic aspects." 

Note: The search terms you enter may not  correspond to a subject heading. Here, my search for "climate change" is not one subject heading, but is instead described by two separate but related terms: "climatic change" and "climate change mitigation." If you don't get any results on your first search, try variations of your topic to find the right subject heading.
A screenshot of the subject search results page.
Step 3: Choose a Subject Heading
When you click a subject heading, the search results page will change to show all of the books available with that subject heading. I chose the heading "climate change mitigation -- developing countries, and got two results:
A screenshot showing the search results for the subject heading "climate change mitigation--developing countries."

Extra Tip: Broaden Your Search

If your search is not a precise match to a subject heading, one way to broaden your search is to look at the catalog record for a book on your topic.  The majority of books are classified with multiple subject headings, so you can often find broader, narrower, and related search terms that will help further your research .

Here I selected the ebook  "Climate change adaptation and social resilience in the Underpants" from my the search results and found a couple subject headings related to "climate change mitigation" - "global warming" and "ecosystem management." 

A screenshot of a book record in the catalog with the subject headings highlighted.

Last Updated: 12/27/2016

If you are looking for a specific book and can't find it in the catalog, you can request it from another library using MOBIUS. This service is available to all faculty, students, and staff, and usually takes from 3-5 business days.

Step 1: Double-Check the Catalog

Before you search MOBIUS, double-check to make sure the book isn't available in the library catalog. I enjoyed reading his previous books, so I'm going to search for "Country Driving" by Peter Hessler. Here, I'm going to do a basic word search with the title and author's last name.

Animated GIF showing a basic word search for "country driving hessler."

Step 2: Search MOBIUS

If your search does not find anything in the catalog, the next step is to search MOBIUS. You can do this without starting over, just select the dark blue "Search MOBIUS" button at the top of the screen to do expand your search to more libraries.

The catalog search results page for "country driving hessler," showing no results for that title. Colored arrows indicate where to click to search additional libraries.

Step 3: Choose an Edition

The search results page will notify you if any copies of your book  are available at other libraries through MOBIUS. It looks as if there are three different editions of "Country Driving" we can choose. You can go ahead and request one by clicking "Request," but it can sometimes help to first click on the title to get more information about a specific edition's availability. 

As you check the available editions, here are a couple of tips:

  • If you are having trouble finding a copy that's not checked out, keep in mind that many libraries are more likely to purchase the hardcover than the paperback (for durability). You should try requesting the hardcover if the paperback edition is checked out.
  • Books and other items requested from libraries that are closer to (or even in) St. Louis are more likely to arrive faster than those from other cities or states. You can see which libraries hold a specific edition if you click on the title to go to the book or item record.

MOBIUS Search Results Page

An image showing the search results page for MOBIUS, with arrows indicating the paperback and hardcover editions.

Item Record for the 2010 First Edition Hardcover.

The item record for "Country Driving" by Peter Hessler with text and arrows showing which libraries are closest to WashU.

Step 4: Place a Request

To place a request for a book, just click "Request" on either the search results page or the book record page. 

Image showing the two request buttons in MOBIUS


Next, select "MOBIUS - Washington University" from the drop-down menu and click "Submit above information." This will let the courier know to transport the book from its home library to Washington University. 

An animated GIF showing the drop-down menu to select the MOBIUS cluster for Washington University.


Finally, enter your WUSTL Key and Password. Don't forget to choose a Pickup Location from the drop-down menu before you hit "Submit." You can have the book delivered to any of the ten departmental libraries on the Danforth Campus, or directly to your mailbox if you are a faculty or staff member

a screenshot of the login and password fields for your WUSTL Key





screenshot of the pickup location drop-down menu.












You will receive an email when your item is ready for pickup. It should take anywhere from 3-5 business days for your book to arrive, or longer if the book is coming from outside Missouri.

Last Updated: 12/27/2016

Olin Library has hundreds of DVDs for you to check out for study or enjoyment. You can always search for a specific movie, actor, or director in the catalog, but it may be easier to browse the collection alphabetically by title in or by genre or language. If you are a frequent movie viewer, you may wish to bookmark these pages. However, if you ever need to find the DVD Collection from the library homepage, here's how you can get there:

Step 1: Go to the Circulation Page

Hover over the "Services" tab along the top of the library homepage, then scroll down and select the first option on the list, "Circulaiton." This is where you can find answers to all your questions about checking items out from the library.

A screenshot showing the Circulation option in the Services drop-down menu on the library homepage.

Step 2: Select "Find Chargers, MacBooks, DVDs, and More"

A screenshot showing the link "find Chargers, Macbooks, DVDs, and More" on the right-hand side of the screen.

Step 3: Select "Olin Library DVDs"

Olin Library DVDs

Step 4: Browse by Title, Subject, or Language

A screenshot showing the subject and foreign language lists of DVDs in Olin Library

Last Updated: 12/27/2016

Did you know the library has technology available to check out? These include everything from phone chargers to cameras, tablets, laptops, and a few special-use devices like a motion controller and thermal imaging camera. You can check what technology is available by following these steps:

Step 1: Go to the Circulation Page

Hover over the "Services" tab along the top of the library homepage, then scroll down and select the first option on the list, "Circulaiton." This is where you can find answers to all your questions about checking items out from the library.

A screenshot of the library home page showing the Circulation option in the Services drop-down menu.


Step 2: Select "Find Chargers, MacBooks, DVDs, and More"

A screenshot showing the "Find chargers, MacBooks, DVDs, and More" option on the Circulation page.

Step 3: Select a Technology or Beta Tech Item

A screenshot of the technology available in the library.

Last Updated: 12/27/2016

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