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Philosophy Resources: Books

Why Use Books?

Books are a unique type of source. They can present an in-depth discussion on a topic or a broad overview of a topic; sometimes both. Unless classified under Leisure, the books in the library are scholarly in nature and are an important body of scholarship that supports your regular class texts.

There is more to books than just their pages. Use the index and table of contents to help you generate keywords or even topic ideas. Use the bibliography or works cited to lead you to additional related research.

Finding Books

  • Use the Library Catalog to search for books or videos in the library. Use the Subject or Keyword search if you don't have a particular title or author in mind.
  • The Core Reference collection which contains facts, statistics, short biographies, and general information to get you started with your research is located on the first floor and is non-circulating. 
  • The General collection, located on the second floor, contains in-depth information and is circulating. Subject specific reference material is also located on the second floor within the General collection but is for library use only.
  • Books in the Library are arranged by call number. The call number is located on the spine of the book and is unique to each book, like an address. Call numbers are organized alphabetically by subject matter and then numerically (i.e. CB19.C477  2004 which denotes the subjects: Civilization -- Philosophy, Human evolution., World history.). The stacks or shelves in the library are arranged alphabetically.
  • Select the Slide Show below for a detailed example
Sidenote: eBooks
We often get the question: "My instructor told me to use a book.  Can I use an eBook? Does that still count?"  Yes it does!  eBooks are still books, they've just in another format. You'll find eBooks right alongside print books in our online catalog, so go ahead and use them.

AlemanyLibrary. (ND). Books: Library of Congress call numbers [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

You Should Own This Book

Keep a copy of one of these books nearby when you are writing your papers, as they are good resources for citing your materials. Your professors may have a preferred citation style; carefully read your assignment or check with your instructor.



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