At one point or another in any given student's college career, one will have to search the UC Berkeley library system for information. It can be a daunting task for any Berkeley student, given the immense size of UCB's libraries.

This guide will assume that the student intends to search only at the Berkeley campus and will not be looking for material elsewhere.

Searching Online for BooksEdit

  • Begin with the library's website. This site can be reached from any computer at any location with web access and an internet browser. Under the Library Catalogs heading click on Pathfinder link.
  • The search system is rather straight forward. Enter your query, and select your search method (book title, subject, author's name, etc.). Entering a topic for search is easy - the goal, therefore, is to narrow down the results to a shorter list that is easier to physically look for. The first filtering methods available are at the bottom:
  • Limit by Location - The UCB library system has approximately 140 separate libraries and collections spread out all over campus. However, the typical undergraduate will find most of his/her resources in the complex composed of Doe, Moffitt, and the Main Stacks. Searching Moffit (MOFF) and the Main Stacks (MAIN) exclusively are always good beginning points. Sometimes, rather than limiting your search, it is better to select "any location" and cast a wide net, and then filter down manually.
  • Limit by Publication Format - Self-explanitory. If you want only books, select books. If you want only periodicals, select periodicals.
  • Limit by Language - This feature is especially useful when searching a subject that is likely to have books written by foreign authors. For instance, the subject search "United States Foreign relations Japan" will yield over 800 results. However, filtering it to only show English-language results will cut this number in half. Use this feature based on your own individual language proficiencies.

Interpreting and Using Search ResultsEdit

By now your search should have generated a list of results. Results are listed by default from newest to oldest, but the order can be changed as desired. These results may also be further refined.

Let's look at them in more detail:

  • At the top is the title of the book and its publication year. Directly below is sometimes a uniform title, which is assigned when a work has no title or appears under many different titles.
  • The next two lines detail the author's name and the book's publishing info. With this and the title, sufficient information is given to create a bibliography.
  • The location entry will tell you which library it is in, and its catalog number. Click on the Location(s) link for a key describing which library is which.
  • Pressing the Availability button will show both the book's physical location and whether or not it has been checked out. A response of "Not Checked Out" means exactly that - you can go down to the library and pick it up. Otherwise, if it is checked out, this feature will say when it is due for return. Note that the library system may have multiple copies of a single book.
  • The Save button will add the entry to a list at the bottom of your web browser. When you are satisfied with a list of entries, you may e-mail this list to any address. This is an exceptionally handy feature when compiling a list of books that you wish to find.

Notice that the title of the book is a clickable link. This will lead to a more detailed description of the book you have selected. All of the information listed above and more is listed in this detailed description.