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Books & e-books: Finding books

A guide to finding books in the IALS Library and further afield

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Last updated:

Alice Tyson, February 2018

About the author

This guide was created by Lisa Davies, former Access Librarian at the IALS Library.

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Introduction

At IALS library books are organised by jurisdiction or by subject, and are arranged by author within this subdivision. They are represented by a classmark (sometimes called a shelfmark) - a combination of letters and numbers indicating their location in the library.

Books organised by jurisdiction have a classmark beginning with G followed by a number, then further subdivided by a letter, which may also be subdivided by a number;

e.g. GA2.C.8 COM

Books organised by subject have a classmark beginning with S, followed by a number, followed by three letters which are usually the first three letters of the author's name (or of the title, if there are more than three authors);

e.g. SH5 DIC

A more detailed outline of the arrangement of books can be found in the guide Classmarks and the Location of Resources in the Library.

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If you know the title or author

If you are looking for a specific book it is much quicker to look it up on the catalogue, find out its classmark and then go to the shelf, rather than to just browse through the books at the shelves. You can run a Title or Author search on the Library Catalogue, or a combination of both.

1. Go to the Library Catalogue and select Title or Author.

Title search:

Type the full title, you may omit the words "the" or "and", for example:

The law of international finance

law of international finance

Author search:

Type the Author's LAST NAME first, for example:

McKnight

McKnight, A

McKnight, Andrew

Once you've run your search, you can use the "Limit/Sort Search" option on the results page to modify your search to include, for instance, year of publication.

2. If your search is successful note down the classmark and use the floor directories or the guide Classmarks and the Location of Resources in the Library to locate the item.

3. If your search is unsuccessful, try a Keyword search.

4. If your search is still unsuccessful, check whether the title is held at another library (see Finding books not held in the Library below).

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Searching by subject, keyword or classmark

If you are not looking for a particular item, but would like to check the library's holdings for a particular subject, run a Subject, Keyword or Classmark search on the Library Catalogue.

Subject search:

This searches across the controlled subject headings of each item on the library catalogue.

1. Go to the Library Catalogue and select Subject.

Once you've run your search, you can use the "Limit/Sort Search" option on the results page to modify your search to include, for instance, year of publication.

2. If your search is unsuccessful, try a Keyword search. When you have found a book on your desired topic, take a note of the subjects listed on the catalogue record for that book. You can use these subjects for subsequent Subject searches.

Keyword search:

This searches across the entire catalogue record, so can be useful if your Title or Subject search does not bring back any results.

- Go to the Library Catalogue and select Keyword.

Once you've run your search, you can use the "Limit/Sort Search" option on the results page to modify your search to include, for instance, year of publication.

Classmark search:

If you know the classmark of the subject or jurisdiction you may want try searching the catalogue using the Classmark option or searching the bookshelves directly. To find out the classmark try:

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Finding the most recent edition

In many cases core textbooks will have a number of editions published in different years. Once a new edition has arrived in the Library the previous edition is removed from the open-access library shelves and placed in the Library's basement store. These earlier editions are identifiable by having a depository number for a classmark on the Library Catalogue. The most recent edition will have a recognisable Library classmark eg Short Loan or GA2.C.1 JOW.

In order to ensure that you have found the most recent edition when searching the Library Catalogue you should follow this procedure:

1. Submit your search

2. Select 'newest first' from the sort drop-down menu

3. Click on 'sort' button. This will list all of the items with the most recent edition at the top. If you find that all of the editions which your search turned up have depository numbers it may be worth re-submitting your search as a keyword search in order to find the most recent edition.

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Understanding the catalogue record

The catalogue will tell you where to find a book by giving a classmark or a location statement. Given below are examples of classmarks, prefixes, filing marks, and location statements.

Classmarks

Here are some examples of classmarks:
SJ150, SG75, GA2.C.4, GP1.C.8, RF75, BG55, BB10

And with possible prefixes and filing marks:

RF75 GER
PAMP BG55 INT
RES BB10 AFR
SJ150 ENC
FOL SJ150 AAA5
RES FOL GA2.C.4 DAC
RES FOL PAMP GP1.C.8 MAR

Prefixes

RES: This means that the book is in the Basement Store. See below.

FOL: Shelved in a separate sequence of large sized books to save space. Consult the Library map to find the FOL books on each floor.

PAMP: A pamphlet shelved in a box at the end of the run of books with the same classmark.

All these prefixes can be combined, as in the examples above, so that RES FOL PAMP would mean a large sized pamphlet kept in the Basement Store.

Filing marks

These always come after the classmark and consist of three letters, usually the first three letters of the author's name. Within each classmark, books are shelved alphabetically by this filing mark.

Location and classmark statements

DEPOSITORY: Kept in the Basement Store. To obtain a book with this location statement, please complete a blue Basement Collection Slip available at the Enquiry Desk and hand it to the staff. The depository number must be noted on the slip.

IALS OFFSITE STORE: Kept in an offsite store. A fetching service is available for this material which may take a day or two to retrieve. To obtain a book with this location statement, please complete a collection slip available at the Enquiry Desk and hand it to the staff. The classmark must be noted on the slip.

SHORT LOAN: Heavily-used material kept in the SHORT LOAN COLLECTION behind the Enquiry Desk. Request textbooks by author and/or title. There is a time limit on the use of items from this collection.

THESIS: Kept in the Basement Store. Please apply to staff at the Enquiry Desk. Request volumes by thesis number.

ORDERED: Item currently on order from the publisher. The Library has not yet received it.

IN PROCESSING: Item has been received from the publisher, but is still being processed. Apply to staff at the Enquiry Desk.

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Finding books not held in the library

If you need to locate titles which are not held in the library try the following steps:

1. Choose the option on the drop-down menu on the front page of the catalogue to search "All Collections (Senate House Libraries + SAS libraries)" and run your search again.

2. Check one of the many catalogues on the web which include the holdings of more than one library. This will save you time as you do not have to search many separate catalogues. Here are some suggestions;

You may need to visit another library to obtain the material which you need. Alternatively you may be able to obtain titles from libraries using the interlibrary loan and document delivery services offered by the library at your institution.

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E-books

Many of the large law databases to which IALS subscribes provide electronic access to books. The main databases with significant book content are:

  • Oxford Scholarship Online: OUP's law book collection of almost 1500 monographs
  • Cambridge Core: around 3000 law titles
  • Westlaw UK: 255 authoritative commentary titles
  • Elgaronline: e-books on the subjects of corporate & financial law, international economic law; and public international law
  • IBFD: international tax law titles
  • i-law: 25 maritime law titles
  • Lexis Nexis JurisClasseur: French law; Encyclopédies JurisClasseur
  • Beck Online: German law; includes Sartorius, SchÅ‘nfelder & Staudinger
  • HeinOnline: 4500 titles available in the Legal Classics collection, mainly US and UK historical titles
  • LLMC digital: mainly 19th and early 29th century foreign and international titles
  • Brill Online: international law books for 2015, 2016, 2017

All of these databases can be accessed through our Electronic Law Library and many can be accessed remotely too. Click here to find out if you are eligible for remote access.

In addition to the above, IALS has secured access to individual e-books from a variety of publishers. They can be accessed from the DawsonERA link in the Electronic Law Library or from the individual book record on the Library Catalogue.

 

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