Finding Books


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Home >> Research Services >> Research Help >> Finding Books

The library's online catalog (also known as the PAC) is the place to search for a specific book, books by a particular author, or books on a research topic.

Search tips for the online catalog

  • The PAC is not case sensitive. Searches may be entered in UPPERCASE, lower case, or Mixed Case.
  • When used as the first word of a title, English language articles, "a", "an", and "the", are disregarded by The PAC. For example, "The New Yorker" is searched as "New Yorker."
  • The PAC automatically converts the ampersand (&) to the spelled out word "and".
  • Apostrophes are ignored. For example, O'Hara will be searched for as if it were spelled OHara.
  • Use the asterisk "*" at the end of a search word or string of letters to find all words beginning with these same letters. For example, child* will retrieve child, childhood, children, child's, etc.
  • Use the LIMIT feature in the Advanced Search to limit by location in the library, material type, year of publication and/or language.
  • Use Boolean operators in a word search to combine terms.
  • Use AND to request records that contain both words. Using AND has the effect of narrowing the search.
  • Use OR to request records that contain either word. Using OR has the effect of expanding the search.
  • Use AND NOT before a word or before a phrase enclosed in parentheses to exclude the word or parenthetical expression in keyword indexed fields. For example, if "chess and not (checkers or backgammon)" is entered as a word search, the PAC would search for only those records that include "chess" but exclude "checkers" and "backgammon" in the keyword indexed fields

Audiobooks and eBooks

To find audiobooks in the library, try an LC subject search for "audiobooks" in our online catalog.  This will bring up a list of CDs and tape cassettes in our collection.  Most will be located in the Media Center.  You can also take a look at locating media and our Multimedia research guide for information on digital recordings and podcasts. If you're looking for popular fiction in audioformat, your best bet is to try either the City of San Diego Public Library or the San Diego County Library.

Want to read an eBook? Our eBook research guide has a link to the eBooks listed in our online catalog, plus a list of both SDSU subscriptions and free eBook collections.  It also has information on eBooks available at the City of San Diego Public Library and the San Diego County Library.


We have a reference blog post on how to find textbooks.

Locating books in the building

Once you've found a book in the online catalog, you'll need to take note of the location and complete call number.  You can text this information to yourself, write it down on a piece of paper, or take a picture of the QR code with your smartphone which will bring up that information. The call number normally consists of letters and numbers. For example: HD42 M23 2003.  Books are arranged by call number and most are located in Love Library on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors (known as the Main Collection). Some books are located in other areas of the library such as Reference, Coleccion Chicana, Special Collections, etc, and the entry in the online catalog will tell you where the book is.

If a book is checked out to another patron, the entry in the online catalog will have a due date listed under the status.  You may have the book recalled and/or held for you by using the Request button in the online catalog.  If the status is "NOT CHECKD OUT," then the book should be in the book stacks.

If the Library does not own the book you want, you may want to:

  • Check to see if another library has it, through the Circuit borrowing program.
  • If it is not available through Circuit, you may request the book via interlibrary loan.

Contact Us

Research Services Contact

Location: Library Addition, 1st Floor
Phone 619.594.6728  Text: 619.567.9743

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