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Books: How to find and use books: Home

An introduction to books. What are books, how can you find them and how you can use them in your studies and research.

Finding books - which books are in the Library?

Use SUPrimo to discover which books are in the Library, what format the books are in and whether they are available or on loan. Read more about searching SUPrimo.

Results from SUPrimo for books will display a list of brief results.


Multiple versions of this record exist indicates that there may be more than one edition of the book or that there are both print and electronic versions of the book


Clicking into the record will provide access to the full details page, with much more information about the specific record.  

Get It shows the availability and loan period of a print book. If the book is on loan, you can request it. Click on the hyperlinks to view details of each copy.

View it links to online access full text availability. Authentication notes give sign in information.

Finding books - where are the books within the Library?

Most books are located on levels 3, 4 and 5 of the Library.

Level 1 - Reference Collection (e.g. bibliographies, almanacs, encyclopedias, yearbooks etc.)

Level 3 - Short Loan collection

Level 4 - Standard loan and one week loan books with the classmarks: 000 to 699 (excluding law books with the classmarks 340-349)

Level 5 - Standard loan and one week loan books with the classmarks 700 to 999 (plus law book with the classmarks 340-349)

Full details of which subjects are located on which floor, plus information about services available in the Library are in our floorplans

Choosing the best book

Books can make a great starting point for your research. Depending on your subject they may be the main source of information, or be used alongside other sources including journal articles, legal materials, audio visual sources, reports or working papers. Here are some general tips about using books for university study:

  • Books may have more than one edition. Some books have numbered editions, e.g. the 2nd, 3rd or 4th edition of a book. Generally you should use the most recent (highest numbered) edition. Other books have different publisher editions, e.g. Othello (Cambridge University Press) or Othello (Penguin). These books will contain different materials, you should read the version recommended by your tutors. 
  • Most academic books contain a table of contents and an index, use these to decide whether the book will contain useful information for your research. 
  • Academic books contain reference lists or bibliographies. Use these to locate other useful materials about your topic. 
  • Make sure you look at the book's date of publication. In some subjects it will be essential to use the most up to date books, in other subjects older books will be useful. When you search SUPrimo you can list results in date order to see the most recently published books on your topic. 

Different types of academic books

There are many different types of academic books. Depending on your subject you may read some of these types of books:

  • Edited books - in these books different chapters have been written by different people, they can usually be identified by having the words 'edited by' on the cover. E.g. Knight, J. (Ed.) (2017) Immigration, emigration and migration. New York: New York University Press. 
  • Textbooks - these books offer introductions to wide ranging subjects, e.g. Allen, M. (2015)Textbook on criminal law. 13th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • Monographs - these are specialist books, usually written by one person on a particular topic. E.g. Young, A. L. (2017) Democratic dialogue and the constitution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  
  • Series of books - several books, often published over many years on broadly similar topics. E.g. The Voltaire Foundation.The complete works of Voltaire. Geneva: Institut et Musée Voltaire.
  • Conference proceedings - in some disciplines it is essential to read the most up to date research on a topic. New research is often reported on at academic conferences and the presentations are published as "conference proceedings". Most conference proceedings are published in electronic format and databases such as Web of Science will help you to locate these publications. E.g. Suchanek, M. (Ed.) (2017) Sustainable transport development, innovation and technology: Proceedings of the 2016 Transopot Conference. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 
  • Technical reports, scientific reports and white papers - written for those with a good understanding of the topic. E.g. OECD (2015) Introduction of Thorium in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle. Paris: OECD Publishing.
  • Reference books - these include encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, statistical publications, yearbooks, bibliographies and more. Most of these books are located on Level 1 of the Andersonian Library and are listed in SUPrimo with R in front of their class number. E.g. Ginzky, H. et al (Eds.) (2016) International yearbook of soil law and policy. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 
  • Theses -  see our guide to finding theses 
  • Official publications (also called government publications) - these are publications produced by governments and can include research reports, policy documents, legislation, statistical information, reports from parliament etc. Contemporary publications are often available in electronic format. Older official publications from the UK can be located using UK Parliamentary Papers E.g. Scottish Government. (2007). Getting it right for every child in kinship and foster care. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. 

Borrowing, renewing and returning books

Borrowing books

Books can be borrowed using the self-issue machines on level 3. Read more about how many books you can borrow. 

Renewing books

Books which you have on loan (other than those from the Short Loan Collection) will be automatically renewed. Read more about this service.

Returning books

Books can be returned using the self-return machines on level 3. 

Book not in the library - what next?

What to do if the book you want is not in the library:

If the book is on loan or in store you should use the reservation service. While you are waiting you may wish to make use of the Virtual Browse option in SUPrimo which will identify books on the same or similar topic. 

If the book is missing from the shelves you should report it as missing at one of the enquiry desks on levels 3, 4 or 5 of the library. Alternatively please email 

If the book is not available in SUPrimo you should either:

If the book is not available and you would like the library to purchase a copy you should use the book suggestion service