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Searching for Books Help Guide

The library catalog is the place to find items held at Oakton Community College. You can search for books and films by title, author, subject, or keyword.

You Must Have a Current Library Card To Borrow Books

Access our printable handout for sample screen images that correspond with the explanation.

Step 1:  Find the Catalog

The Oakton Library Catalog offers two ways to look for books: basic search and advanced search. Both can be accessed from the library’s homepage at www.oakton.edu/library:

Basic Search is found by clicking on the “Search the Oakton Catalog for Books” link, found under “Quick Search” in the middle of the library homepage

Advanced Search is found in two ways.

  • You can find Advanced Search by first clicking on the “Books” link found under “Find It!” on the left-hand side of the library homepage and then clicking on the “Oakton Library Catalog” link on the next page.
  • You can also get to Advanced Search from the Basic Search page by clicking on the “Advanced Search” link found under the search box and on the left.

Special Note: If you are looking for something that an instructor put on reserve for your class, click the “Course Reserves” link found below the search box and use the search features on that page to find your item.

Step 2:  Using Basic or Advanced Search

Basic Search

First, enter the words needed to identify the item you are looking for in the search box.

  • Search by keyword: To do a keyword search, enter the words that would identify the item or the information you are looking for in the search box. A keyword search looks for your search terms in ALL fields of a catalog record: fewer words and phrases generally produce more results. The more words and phrases you search for, the more specific your search becomes. If your search is getting few or no results, think of more generic terms, and/or use fewer search terms. 
  • Search for specific words: If the words in your search are specific to the item you are looking for, you can choose to narrow your search by title, author, subject, or ISBN/ISSN using the dropdown menu to the right of the search box.

Second, click the “Find” button to the far right of the search box.

Advanced Search

Type Your Search Terms:

Advanced Search provides three search boxes that you can separately customize to search by keyword (i.e. anywhere in the record), or just in the title, author, subject or ISBN/ISSN fields by using dropdown menus to the left of the search boxes.

Another set of dropdown menus lets you combine your search terms using AND (looks for both terms together), OR (looks for either term by itself), or NOT (excludes a term).

Limit Your Search:

Below the search boxes are additional options for refining your search. You can limit to:

  • a certain publication date or range of dates.
  • a particular version (electronic, print or microform).
  • materials in a particular language.
  • materials in a particular format (i.e. Do you want the book or the movie?  Do you only want to look for journals?).
  • Government Documents only; or you can include or exclude Government Documents in your search of the entire catalog.

Step 3:  Navigate the Search Results

The search results list shows you the title, date, call number, campus location, and whether or not an item is available. The search results list also provides several options:

  • To find the most recent books, use the “Relevance” drop down menu found near the upper right of the screen, and select “Newest First.”
  • To narrow your search, choose options from the right-hand side of the screen. Options include limiting by format, specific author, and/or subject heading.

Step 4:  Navigate the Item Record

To view an item record, click on the desired title in the search results list. The item record lists the campus holding the book and provides several options:

  • At the top of the page, you may choose “Cite this” to produce an APA or MLA citation for the item.
  • At the top right of the page is a link to Google, which provides related images, reviews and more about this item.
  • In the middle of the page are specific topics covered by the item. Click on a topic to find more books about the same subject in the catalog.
  • On the bottom of the screen is information about where the item is located.

Need additional help? Ask a Reference Librarian!

Des Plaines Campus Library, 2nd floor, 847.635.1644
Ray Hartstein Campus Library, Room A200, 847.635.1474

Library Hours

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Fall Hours
Mon - Thu: 7:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Fri: 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Sat: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Sun: Closed
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