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History: African American History

This guide links to useful databases and resources for African-American History

How to Search for Books

1. Click on ROOsearch to jump to the search page.  ROOsearch simultaneously searches all of the library resources with one search!

2. Try a title or keyword search on your figure or topic. 

3. Under the search bar, make sure to change "All items" to "Books."

4. Look at several relevant records and note words and phrases from the "subject" area.

5. Go back to the search screen and search BY SUBJECT using the words you identified in step 3.

6. When you find something useful, copy down the call number (for more info. on call numbers, see below!) and location if it's a print book. If the book is an eBook, either click the title of the book or the link that says "click here to read this Electronic Book."

Locating a Book by Call Number

A search for items in ROOsearch will provide you with some basic information about the book, its author, publication date, a call number (or a link if it's an e-book), how many copies are owned, and the book's status or availability (not checked out, checked out, lost, on order, etc.). So how do you use this info to get the actual book?

In locating materials in the library, it is important to understand how these items are organized and shelved. Southworth Library Learning Commons uses the Library of Congress Classification system to organize materials. In general, books in the library are shelved by SUBJECT. What this means is that once you identify one book of interest for your topic, you should be able to locate other books related to your topic on the shelves next to it. Books in most libraries are shelved by their CALL NUMBERS.

If your book's call number does not have a prefix (such as REF or JUV), the book will be shelved in alphanumeric order (letters first, then numbers, then a letter, then a decimal number, etc.) on the second floor in the general stacks. A call number is basically the "address" of where you will find a book in the library.

E457.2 M475 1991   <<<   This is the book we want to find!

First, find the area with books whose call number begins with E. E comes before EA, EB, EC, etc. and E comes after D, DC, etc. 

Next, use the numbers following the first letter to locate the shelf where the book belongs. 457.2 comes before 457.4 or 458 and after 457.1 or 450. 

Then, continue using alphabetic and numerical order along with the call number to locate your book. 

Let's take a closer look at what each line of the call number represents:

E                  The letter represents the subject area (E represents 'History of the Americas'), so find the stack in the library that contains the E section.

457.2          The numbers following the subject area letter refer to a specific subject. (457.2 represents 'Civil War period, 1861-1865')

M475          The third line typically refers to the author's last name. (M = McPherson)

1991           The last line refers to the date the book was published (1991)

If your book has a prefix, the book will be shelved in alphanumeric order within the collection indicated by the prefix:

  • JUV stands for juvenile, and this collection is housed on the second floor adjacent to the printers. 

If you ever have trouble locating a book by call number, just contact the reference desk on the first floor.

Helpful Hints for your Class

In ROOsearch, try searching for books on a particular person, event, or concept.  For example, search for Frederick Douglass, Selma march, slave narratives, or the Harlem Renaissance.  

Get creative with your keywords and combine useful terms until you get the best and most relevant results (use a sheet of paper to keep a running list of all the keywords you try).

Also, once you've found a book on the library shelves, look at the books nearby.  Browse the area, and you'll probably find some more books that may be helpful.  This is a great strategy to locate sources and information you may have never found otherwise! 

Using Google Books

Use Google Books as a way to locate great books on your topic.  We may not have the books at Southworth Library Learning Commons, but you can submit an Interlibrary Loan request.  Just sign in with your SUNY Canton username and password.  You may need to register if you've never used Interlibrary Loan before.  Locate the Submit a New Request option on the left-hand side of the screen, and select Book.  Finally, copy and paste (from Google Books) the requested information into those blank fields.  It's that simple!

Search Google Books here:

Google Book Search

Selected Books from the SLLC Collection