Watch the 4-minute How to Find Books clip! (NOTE: best viewed in IE or Mozilla/Firefox)
The Main Catalog is your primary tool for finding books in the Princeton University Library. You can also use the catalog to find other materials, including videos, sound recordings, Internet sites, and journals (the journal subscription -- not individual articles). The Main Catalog provides two search modes: Basic Search and Guided Search.
|Use Basic Search when...||Use Guided Search when...|
Keyword searching is best used when you don't know the exact title, author's name, or subject heading. Use keywords especially when you want to discover what items the Library has for your topic, as this allows you to express the topic in your own words. For more tips on using the Main Catalog see the Help Page.
I advise using the Guided Search, especially since most attempts to discover what the Library holds on a topic will involve a complex keyword search. The Guided Search allows you to search combinations of keywords and phrases in more than one field within the catalog. You can combine search terms with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and by using the pull-down menu options (all of these, any of these, as a phrase). You can also limit your search to particular fields, such as the title, author, subject, and publisher. Break your topic up into its component concepts and construct searches for each concept individually, then combine the conceptual searches together to approximate your topic.
When you get some results, use the Long View feature to display the full record. Displaying the full record exposes more detail, including the subject headings that were assigned to that item. Look at the subject headings and see how they describe your topic. You can do follow-up searches using these subject headings to get related items.
When you find an item you'd like to obtain, be sure to pay attention to the location, call number, and status as indicated in the catalog record. See the list of location codes for help determining in which library collection the item is held. The call number shows where in the collection the item should be, and the status tells you whether the book is available or not. For more information on the Firestone layout and the call numbers used at Princeton, or for help with locating a book in Firestone, see the Library Call Numbers & Locations page.
Use one of the services below to order books not currently available at the Princeton University Library.