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POLI: Political Science

Guide to resources, sources, and research (discovery) tools for those studying Political Science at the University of Calgary.

Books: Introduction

What is a Book?

It seems like a silly question!  Who doesn't know what a book is?!!

Well, here's one formal definition for a book:

"A collection of leaves of paper, parchment, vellum, cloth, or other material (written, printed, or blank) fastened together along one edge, with or without a protective case or cover".

(Reitz, Joan M. Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.)

What is an Electronic Book?

"An electronic book (also e-book, ebook, digital book) is a text- and image-based publication in digital form produced on, published by, and readable on computers or other digital devices."

(Gardiner, Eileen and Ronald G. Musto, "The Electronic Book." In The Oxford Companion to the Book, edited by Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H.R. Woudhuysen, 1:164-171.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Find: The Basics

What Do You Need to Know to Find a Book at the University of Calgary Library?

You need to know the following:

  • How Books Are Physically Organized
  • Where Books Are Located


Most library materials are classified and are assigned a call number that is printed on a label or handwritten on the item itself.  This number allows the research to "call", ie., get an item from a shelf, drawer, etc. in the library.

Even books that are available online are assigned a call number.

Three Types of Call Numbers

In general, 3 types of call numbers are used for materials at the University of Calgary Library.  These include:


    • Used for government documents and publications

    • Based on a code which is derived from the "government author" or "issuing body" that produced the publication

  • Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC)

    • Used by public and school libraries and used at the Doucette Library of Teaching Resources

    • Classifies materials by subject using numbers and decimals

  • Library of Congress Classification (LC)

    • Used by college and university libraries in North America and sometimes other countries in the world

    • Classifies materials by subject using letters and numbers

    • First few lines of the call number indicate the subject classification.  Last lines consits of additional notations (author, title marks) plus date of pblication to make that call number unique.

    • Classification J: is used for Political Science


The University of Calgary Library consists of many different libraries, some on campus, some off.

Depending on their format and use, books may be found in a number of different locations within a library.  In general, books are found on shelves, however, some may be in microfiche or microfilm format.

Most libraries have different locations for their books.  These include:

  • Reserve Collection
    • Items are put in this location when a shorter than normal loan period is needed, eg. 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 day.  The shorter period of time is requested by the professor teaching a course and enables all of the students to have an opportunity read the item.
  • Reference Collection
    • Usually Library Use Only items that include books that are not meant to be read cover to cover.  Includes items like dictionaries, enecyclopedias, handbooks, etc.
    • Increasingly, more of these materials are available in electronic format.



New Sources: Books

How Do You Find Out What New Books the Library Has Received?

There are a number of ways to find out what new books the library has received:

    • New Library Resources 



  • New Book List
  • With various pull-down menus, you can customize the list of new books that you want to see
  • Results are available as Web Pages or as an RSS Feed

Find Books: Browsing

Browsing shelves for books is a common way to find items. In an ideal library, all of the books would be available in one building, old to new.  Most university libraries find this to be im


LC classification:  History, Political Science, D's, etc.

Find Books: Searching

Search by author

Search by title

Search by subject

Using Online Resources to Find Books


Online Resources are resources that are available in digital/electronic/online format.  They include:

Digital Versions of Sources

  • Searchable sources, like dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, etc.
  • Full-text


Canadian Encyclopedia Online

Dictionary of Canadian Biography

International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behahioral Sciences

Handbook of Latin American Studies

Research Databases

  • "A large, regularly updated file of digitized information (bibliographic records, abstracts, full-text documents, directory entries, images, statistics, etc.)...".
  • Reitz, Joan M.  Dictionary for Library and Information Science.  Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004

    Types of Research Databases

    Bibliographic (Citations Only)
  • Contain citations, ie., descriptions of articles, books, government publications, newspapers, etc. but no full-text within the database
  • You need to use SFX or Link to Full-text to locate the full-text of the item or you need to locate the item in the library's collection by checking the Library Catalogue or, in some cases, locating the item in the microfiche collection.
Canadian Research Index (Microlog) 
  • Contain the full-text of the item in the database as well as the citation
Canadian Public Policy Collection
  • Combination of Bibliographic and Full-Text
  • Includes a combination of bibliographic (citations only) items as well as full-text
  • Statistical
    • Includes data or statistics







Using Databases

There are a number of Databases to which the University of Calgary subscribes that help researchers find books.  Some of these resources describe books, others provide the fulltext of books. 

All fulltext books are called electronic books and are readable and searchable using a computer.  Many of the electronic books are described in the Classic Catalogue (Library Catalogue).  A link to the Database that contains that book.

...Using Google Scholar

...Using Open Library

Open Library.  Internet Resource. Reviewed in 2009nov CHOICE.[Visited Aug'09] The Open Library project was launched in 2007 by the nonprofit Internet Archive (CH, Jan'05, 42-2534) and funded in part by the California State Library. Its goal is to develop one Web page for every book published. Open Library is currently a beta site. Its predominant feature is a basic search engine that allows visitors to perform keyword searches on 20 million bibliographic records currently available. The site also features an advanced search option that lets visitors search by author, title, subject, ISBN, and publisher; and limit by Date Range and Scanned Books Only. In addition to standard searches, advanced search provides the option of searching the full text of more than one million works available within the database.

Open Library records contain standard bibliographic information, as well as cover images and tables of contents for some works. If titles are available for purchase through Amazon or other sources, Open Library links to the purchase information. Various database records also indicate ownership by the Library of Congress and local library holdings. In addition to the search features made available on the site, links are provided to detailed project information. The database is updated as records and materials are added. The site is easily navigated. Google Books provides direct access to more than 7 million works, whereas WorldCat (CH, Nov'07, 45-1183) allows visitors to search bibliographic and holdings data for 1.4 billion works owned by libraries worldwide. Although one objective of Open Library is to experiment with a non-MARC metadata schema, little difference is apparent in the information presented to the public. As long as Google Books and WorldCat are freely available, Open Library is only moderately useful. Summing Up: Optional. General audience, lower-level undergraduates, and information professionals.

 -- R. J. Erlandson, University of Nebraska Omaha

...Using Google Books

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