Finding Books and eBooks

Wed. Jan. 28, 2015

For most people, libraries are almost synonymous with books. The UW library has over 400,000 books for you to browse and borrow, and in recent years, the library has started building a collection of ebooks to allow students to access the texts from wherever they are.

About Call Numbers and Browsing

A call number is a unique number the librarians assign to the books to identify their place on the shelf and the subject area associated with the book’s contents. The system we use, called the Library of Congress classification, is great for organizing the texts in a large library. Once you have one or two call numbers for your topic, you can go to those sections and browse the area to find all sorts of relevant titles.

You can explore the Library of Congress classification system here.

If your topic is quite narrow, you may not find many full books that match. In this case, you may find a lot of journal articles or other formats in the results, or worse yet, you may not find too much at all. To get around this, you’ll need refocus your search a little to find books about a more general topic, then use the book’s table of contents or index to locate the relevant sections within.


You can limit your library search results to ebooks. These can be read online, or in some cases, downloaded to a computer or mobile device. You may be required to download special software and register for one or more accounts to get the ebook to download properly.

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