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How to Find Books, Magazines, and Journal Titles in the CSU Dominguez Hills Library

How library materials are organized | What search tool to use | How to look up information | Understanding our online catalogue

how library materials are organized

  1. Each item (books, journals, databases, and other library materials) is identified by author(s) and/or title; by edition; date and place of publication as well as by publisher.
  2. Most titles (except fiction) are assigned subject terms to reflect their subject matters.
  3. A call number, consisting of a combination of letter, or letters and numbers, is assigned to each item. In this way, books and periodicals on the same subject can be shelved systematically in call number order on the library shelves. Therefore, you need to know the call number, in order to locate a specific book.
  4. Some library materials are published specially for reference such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, and some are issued in special formats such as microforms. To make then easy to find, the library tends to group the special types of materials together as a collection. For example, our Library has a Reference Collection and a Reserved Books Collection, which are housed in separate locations. Therefore, you need to know the Symbols created for different Collections and the shelving locations to find them.
  5. To communicate with other libraries globally, our Library has followed the national standards to describe and organize library materials through an automated system, called Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC).

What search tool to use

Now you know that the OPAC contains a database of library-owned materials as well as selected Internet resources. Use the OPAC to look up books, journal or magazine titles. If you want to find the individual articles in a journal or a magazine, you should use a journal index or online database. The Library Home Page has a list of electronic journal databases (some with full-text). If you are looking for a specific journal, please visit our Journal List page. You can always ask a Reference Librarian for assistance.

How to look up information

Since each item is identified by author(s), title, and subjects, you can look up in the OPAC either by the name of the author, or by title (if known), and by subject (if you are not looking for a particular book.) To find out if the Library has subscribed to a particular journal or magazine, look up in the OPAC by the title of the journal, or magazine. The Library has a computer set up for searching the Periodicals Collection (i.e. journals and magazines, excluding newspapers). In addition, the Library keeps a print edition of the CSUDH Serials Holdings List.

Understanding Our Online Catalogue

Once you have found the item you are looking for in the Online Catalog, you will see a screen with information similar to the examples below.

OPAC Record Example (Book)

AuthorChaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400.
TitleChaucer's Troilus and Cressida five books in present-day English / by James J. Donohue.
Pub infoDubuque, Iowa : Loras College Press, 1975.

LocationCall #Status
4th Floor PR1895 .D6CHECK SHELVES

Descriptxviii, 201 p. ; 23 cm.
SubjectChaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400. Troilus and Criseyde.
Add authorDonohue, Jame J. (James John), 1906-

Explanation of the fields shown above

Field NameExplanation
AuthorThe author's name. Always in the following form: Last Name, First Name, dates of birth/death.
TitleThe Title of the item. Sometimes, this field also shows author/editor information after a forward-slash.
LocationWhere the library is located. Usually, this will say either 2nd, 3rd, or 4th floor.
Call #This is the Library of Congress Call Number for the item. For an explanation of how to use this system in our library, see this tutorial. To see where call numbers are located, see this tutorial.
StatusThis will say whether the item is checked out, in the library, overdue, or on reserve. If it says "Check Shelves," that means it should be in the library and available to check out. Items marked "Library Use Only" cannot be checked out.
DescriptDescription of the book. Usually this is how many pages are in the book and its size in centimetres.
SubjectThe subject heading for the item. You can click on this to see more of this subject.

Sometimes there will be different fields, and sometimes the fields in the example above will not be listed. If you are looking up journals in the catalogue, there will be an area showing you which years' issues the library has, and whether it is available online, as in the example below.

OPAC Record Example (Journal)

TitleThe American journal of occupational therapy : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Pub infoBoston : Published for the American Occupational Therapy Association by the AJOT Pub. Co., c1947-
This is an Electronic Version
4th Floor
v.32 (1978)- v.57 (2003)
Microform Collection
v.1 (1947)- v.31 (1977)

LocationCall #Status
Main LibraryRM735.A1 A5LIB USE ONLY

Descriptv. : ill., ports. ; 28 cm.
FrequencyMonthly, Jan. 1980-
Bimonthly, 1947-
10 no. a year <, 1977->
Pub DateVol. 1, no. 1 (Feb. 1947)-
SubjectOccupational therapy -- Periodicals.
Indexed In Cumulative index to nursing & allied health literature 0146-5554 1978-
Excerpta medica
Index medicus 0019-3879 1978-
Biological abstracts 0006-3169 -1982
Energy research abstracts 0160-3604 Aug. 1982-
... ... ...

There are several fields in this journal's entry that you will not find in an entry for a regular book. The important ones are explained below

"This is an Electronic Version"If you see this in any entry (not just periodicals), you can click the link in this area to access an online version of the item.
This set of fields will list three things about the periodical. The first of these is its "Identity," or in more simple terms, the type of resource it is. Identity may say one of several things depending on what format the periodical is in. Options include Bound for collected issues of an item, Micro for copies available on microform. Location will say where the particular version of the periodical is located. Ask at the reference desk for microform copies. LIB HAS is what volumes and issues, and from which years, the library holds copies in the title.
FrequencyThis is how often the periodical is published. If this has changed over the course of the periodical's history, each value will be associated with a set of years.
Indexed InThis field discusses which Journal Indexes the periodical is listed in. For a complete list of online databases that contain the periodical, be sure to check the library's Journal List page.

If you are still unsure how to locate something based on the information you have found in the online catalogue, or if you are still uncertain how to get that information, stop by the reference desk on the second floor of the library and a reference librarian will be happy to assist you.