Your results from a  Library Search contain an item's status (available or not), Library location, call number eg. BF39 .H69 2010, and format (physical or electronic).

item detail showing location
Example search result showing status and location information

1. Ensure the item is Available. Electronic versions can be accessed online. If it's already on loan, place a hold. 

2. The Location indicates Library building and collection in which the item is held.

Collection Description
High use Items are accessible but may only be borrowed for short periods.
General, journal, multimedia, quartos, and folios Items are accessible and normal borrowing rules apply.
Reference Items can be used in Library but cannot be borrowed.
Book machine Allows ID card access for short periods and item must be returned to the same machine.
Hold shelf Items held for the person that requested them.

In the example above, the item is in the Social Sciences & Humanities (SSAH) Library and it is available in the General area. 

3. Record the call number of the item. Items are ordered alphabetically and numerically by call number eg. BE > BF > BG, and BF38 > BF39 > BF40.

4. At the Library, look for signs for the collection you need. In this example, the item is in the General collection of the SSAH Library which is on the 4th floor. Clients with disabilities may request staff assistance

5. Once in the correct area, look for the signs on the book shelves. In this example, the call number starts with BF39 so it will be on the shelf shown below.

Library shelves with signage
Library shelves with call number signage

6. All items should have a visible call number attached. Use the order of the call numbers to work your way to the actual item:

Book on shelf showing call number
Book on shelf, correctly placed by call number

As you can see, the .H54 books come before the .H69 books. The last part of a call number is the publishing year, which for our example needs to be 2010.

Video explanation of how to locate an item


Ask our friendly staff if you're having trouble finding an item.

Finding related items

The call number system groups items by subject, so you can usually find interesting items around the one you initially searched for. Learn more about how we help you to find related items.

Items not on the shelf

In general, items not on the shelves are on loan. If Library Search indicates that the item is Available and you are unable to find it on the shelves: 

  1. Check that you have the correct location and call number.
  2. Check the sorting shelves which are usually on the same floor as the books.
  3. Ask Library staff for help.

Item on loan? Place a hold.