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A guide to help you find library resources for English literature and writing

Books! How Do I Get Them?

Use the Library Catalogue to find works of literature, books about works of literature (such as books of criticism, bibliographies, literary dictionaries, glossaries, etc.) and books about the authors of those works. 

One Stop Search is the library's main search engine. Results from a One Stop Search will include books that are physically in the library, as well as electronic resources that the library has access to. Here is a video that shows you more about how to find books using One Stop Search. You can also choose to search just the Library Catalogue, which will show you primarily a list of physical books, although sometimes electronic books will show up in these results as well.

Choosing search terms and narrowing down your search results are important steps to finding resources you can use. You may discover at first that your results list is very long, as in this example. 30,000+ is a lot of titles about Margaret Atwood!

Margaret Atwood results list new

To narrow down a long results list like this, look on the left-hand side of the page, where you should see some options like Availability, Resource Type, Creation Date, Subject, and more. 

Availability: allows you to choose between books that are physically in the library and electronic books that are available in full-text online.

Resource Type: of course there are more than just books in the library, but this option allows you to choose just books if that's what you need.

Creation Date: choose specific date ranges to focus on more contemporary or historical resources.

Subject: These headings give you clues about how items in the library are organized behind the scenes, and they can also help you narrow down your search. If you click on the Subject heading "Margaret Atwood 1939-" (as opposed to the Author heading) you will get a list of all the books about Margaret Atwood, rather than books that she herself has written. You can also see these subject headings when you click on the title of a book to view its longer record:

Margaret Atwood subject headings

If you are looking for ways to refine your searches--or having trouble finding good results--subject headings can be very helpful. Click on any subject heading to open up a new list of items tagged with that heading.

Language: Most of the library's resources are in English, but if other languages are available they will appear here.

Author/Creator: this is where you can narrow your results to books by Margaret Atwood, as well as to the authors of books about her.

LCC Classification: Books about literature are in the P section in the Library of Congress classification system, but you can choose other sections in the list under this heading to get a wider scope of research on your topic.

Collection: Most of the items in your searches will be found under the general "John E. Robbins Library" heading in this section, but sometimes links to electronic books available through the library will be listed separately here.

Sometimes you just want to browse the library shelves to see what's there. Surprise discoveries from browsing can be one of the best things about using the library! Literature-related content is located in these sections:

PN1 to PN6790: General Literature (includes Literary History, Biographies, Literature by Historical Period, Drama, Motion Pictures, etc.)

PR1 to PR9680: English Literature (as in, literature from the United Kingdom)

PS1 to PS3626: American Literature

PS8001 to PS8649: Canadian Literature