Finding Books in the Library Catalog

The main search box on the Library home page will retrieve material from two different sources: the CU Library catalog and journal article databases. Clicking on a link below the search box (Catalog, etc.) will limit your searches to that particular source.

The Cornell Library Catalog includes the holdings of all Ithaca campus libraries, in addition to those of the Geneva Experiment Station. The catalog contains records for books, computer files, government documents, manuscripts and archives,maps, musical scores, periodicals, serials, sound recordings, and visual materials.


The "All Fields" search will retrieve matches for your search terms wherever they appear in the description of an item, but you may use the pulldown menu to the right of the search box to limit to title, author, subject, publisher, or call number.

What do you after you've identified some books in the Catalog? Try our quick tutorial: How To Find A Book in the Stacks

The Cornell University Library uses Library of Congress Subject Headings as the standard for subject searching.  Limit your search to Subject to retrieve items that contain your terms as part of their LC heading:


If you find one book relevant to your subject, you can identify others by clicking on the subject heading in the record for that book:

Clicking on the last facet of the subject heading  will retrieve additional books about the philosophy of place.

Size Ranges

Pay attention to the call numbers and note whether the material is shelved in the regular, oversized (+), or double oversized (++) sections in Olin or Uris.

Finding Books in Olin Library photoset

How to Read Call Numbers

1. Books are shelved in alphabetical order based on the letters in the first line of the call number. For example, the P call numbers are followed by the PA call numbers, followed by PB, etc.
2. Within the PA call numbers, books are arranged in numerical order, from low to high.
3. The next lines of the call number contain a letter and a number, but they are read as decimals, not whole numbers. Example: A55 is read as A .55. This is why A55 comes before A6 (A .55, A .6, A .65).

Requesting Books

If a book you need is checked out or not available at a campus Library, you may request a copy from another Ivy League or peer institution library through Borrow Direct. Look for the Request button in the catalog records for books we have but are checked out:

The Request button will usually direct you to the Borrow Direct system. Log in, find the listing for the book you need, and if a copy is available it will be delivered to the campus library you select in 3-5 days. Loans are for 8 weeks, with the option to renew for another 8 weeks.

If the item isn't available via Borrow Direct, it will be requested via Interlibrary Loan.