Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
At this time, Yale libraries are open to current faculty, staff, and students; IDs are required for entrance. Yale Library COVID-19 updates.

Library Resources for Summer Students: Research (Main)

A guide to Yale University Library resources for students taking summer classes.

Library Organization

Most of the materials are organized by subject (Library of Congress), but some items in Sterling are classified through Old Yale, which are also by subject. LC classifications give every book a unique series of letters and numbers that identifies the book, also known as a Call Number. For example, a call number for Ronald Takaki's "A Different Mirror" is E184.A1 T335X 2008 (LC). In the library search engine Orbis (which you will learn more about next), each book has its own Orbis record, which includes how many copies of the book the library holds, the call number it has and more.

Items that have similar call numbers address similar subjects. To search for related materials, you would look for books that have the same first few digits/letters as their call numer. In the example of Takaki, you would search for books with call numbers that begin with "E184."

Below is a sample Orbis entry.

Orbis: The Library Search Engine

So you have settled on a topic for your research paper. How do you begin to look for materials?

Get familiar with Orbis, the Yale library search engine. Orbis will be your best friend! You can use Orbis to search the library's extensive collections. Orbis includes the following materials:

  • Books (both physical and online)
  • Periodicals (both physical and on microfilm)
  • Films
  • Journals
  • Music (both printed and manuscripts)
  • Books and Serials
  • Maps
  • Sound Recordings

Orbis will not include all online journals, etc. Its primary purpose is to search through the library's holdings.

Orbis allows you to sort your search results by keyword, title, author, subject and call number. Simply click on the drop-down menu right of the search bar and select your preferred criteria.

Once you have found a book you think is relevant to your research, Orbis allows you to view more information on the item, including the library it is located in, how many copies the library holds and whether it is available to check out. If someone has checked out a book you need, you can put in a request to request/recall these materials. These will give you 

Browsing the Bookstacks

In addition to searching for books online using Orbis, students can explore the Sterling bookstacks and retrieve books! You can search for books according to their call number.

For more help, check out the Sterling Memorial Library Stack guide.

Find a book/item on Orbis that was really helpful and you would like more materials like it? You can visit the Orbis entry for the item – it will give you a call number and the subjects it is listed under. The library organizes items by subject, so if you search Orbis through either the call number or the subject, you will find items the library has that are similar to the item you originally found.

Subject Guides: Starting Your Research In A Specific Major/Area

This website is a subject guide! Subject guides are websites prepared by Yale staff that can help students navigate research in certain majors or programs - they feature helpful databases and and resources to help guide research on a particular topic. Please visit the complete list of Yale subject guides for more information.

Below is an example of the library guide website (simply click on the plus sign symbol to view library guides on the subject).