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ENGL 115 Their Eyes Were Watching God: African American Literature and the Bible: Find Books

Find Books

What is in the library catalog?

A library catalog provides information about which materials are available at the library. These materials can be in print or electronic format, and range from: books and e-books, serials (journals, newspapers, magazines), manuscripts, audio-visual material, scores, maps, government documents, and databases.

To find books (or any of the items listed above) you'll need to search in one of the library's catalogs:

What ISN'T in the library catalog?

You won't find pieces of larger works in the library catalog. That means articles and book chapters will not appear in your search results. To find these you'll need to use Articles+ or search within a library database. A good way to remember the difference is that the library catalog (Orbis) contains whole items -- like books.

Orbis & Books+ Search Techniques

screenshot of the drop-down menu of available search fields in Quicksearch

Make your search more specific by using the options from a dropdown menu. These options give you the ability to search by title or author, search and browse by subject, as well as by keyword.

If you want to get really specific try an Advanced Search, which allows you to combine terms (using AND, OR) as well as exclude terms (using NOT). For details on how this process works, see "Search by Keyword" below!

Note: For each of the search strategies listed below, you have the option to use Orbis Basic or Advanced Search, or Books+ Advanced Search within Quicksearch.


Search or Browse by Subject

A subject search will bring back materials that are all on the same topic. It does so by retrieving materials that include that same subject heading in the catalog record. You can think of these as linking information in the same way as a hashtag in social media (#yalelibrary).

Pro-tip #1: If you have a book that is already relevant to your research, look it up (by title) in the catalog because...

Catalog records for books include linked subjects! By selecting one of these linked subjects you will find other books on the same topic. Select a linked subject from a catalog record to browse other books available, or use a subject with other keywords in an Advanced search.

screenshot of the hyperlinked subjects found within Orbis and Books+ in Quicksearch






Pro-tip #2: If you don't have a book, or don't know your subject yet, your best-bet is to use "Subject Browse" in Orbis.

Orbis can help you narrow and specific your subject search better than Quicksearch can. For example: using Orbis, enter "Art" into the "Subject Browse" drop-down. In the results, you will see that Orbis offers advice on what else to search ("Search Also Under:", as well as more specific iterations of "art" as a subject, such as "Art -- 20th century".

If you are browsing for a specific subject in Orbis, make note of any "Narrower" or "Broader" terms that appear in the results -- these will also help you define the subject that you need, and will help you surface better results!

Search by Keyword

A keyword search is helpful when you do not know the exact title of a book, or if you do not know an author's name or the correct subject heading.

Pro-tip #1: You can use Boolean operators to combine keywords to make your search more specific: OR, AND, NOT.

  • "OR" is a very broad search and will return results containing both keywords independently and together
  • "AND"  is a very specific search and will return results only where both keywords are present
  • "NOT" will return results with one keyword but not the other

Pro-tip #2: Make your keyword search even more specific by using the drop-down options in Advanced Search, from author to subject.

Specifying the field you want to search will be especially helpful if your preliminary keyword searches have returned too many results (i.e.: 1,000,000 results is too many! But so is 2,000).

A venn diagram demonstrating how Boolean operators work







A representation of how Boolean operators work, with each circle in the venn diagram representing the contents of the library catalog.

Call Numbers

A call number is like an address: it tells you where a book is located in the library.

An image of book spines displaying call numbers, i.e.: JC71 .P513 2012

1. The first row of a call number is read alphabetically (A, AB, C) and then as a whole number. Use the stacks directory to navigate to the floor you need based on the first row letter(s), then navigate to the bookshelf based on the letter and number.

2. For the second row, read the letters alphabetically and read the numbers as a decimal (.01, .11, .9)

3. The third row can be the year of publication or an edition, arranged chronologically

If you need help, or can't find your book, try the "Request" option located within Orbis and Quicksearch, and we'll get the book for you.