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FAQs: Searching for Books


How do I search for books? (Overview)
How do I search the Alliant library catalog?
I can't find the book I want.
How can I request a book or dissertation from another Alliant library? (No charge).
How can I request items from LINKplus libraries? (No charge).
How can I request a book from a library that is not Alliant or LINKplus (Interlibrary Loan-ILL)?
Note: This also covers any journal article request for materials not available at your home library.
How do I limit my search to only include books from my local Alliant library?
How do I know where an item is located?
I found a book in the catalog, but I can?t find it on the shelves.
I tried to put a hold on a book, but I couldn't, why?
How do I find and access e-books?

How do I search for books? (Overview)
  • Search Encore or Classic Catalog.
  • If you limited your search to your home library, try all Alliant libraries. If you find the book, request from another Alliant library (for help, see How can I request a book or dissertation from another Alliant library?).
  • If you can't find it in the Alliant system, search LINKplus (for help, see How can I request items from LINK+ libraries?).
  • If you can't find it in the Alliant system or in LINKplus, place an Interlibrary Loan request to borrow it through other libraries that own it.
How do I search the Alliant library catalog?
  • Go to the classic catalog and search by words, title, author, subject, call number, or dissertation.
    • Keyword Search. Use "and" to link words if you do not want a phrase search.
    • Title Search. You don't need the initial article ("the" or "a"). If unsure of the word order of the title, use word search.
    • Author Search. Enter the surname first.
    • Subject Search. Retrieves exactly as typed, including operators like "and."
    • Call Number Search. Search using what you know is the call number or what it might be using the Library of Congress Classification System.
    • Location. To look at books available at your home library only, do a word search and change the location from "View Entire Collection" to your home library. (If you don't find what you're looking for, search the entire collection and request the book to be sent to your home librry by clicking on the blue Request button).
    • Subject vs. Word Search. Subject search uses Library of Congress subject headings to pull up records using different terms that mean the same thing. Keyword search looks for exact word only.
  • Each item will show location, call number (if applicable), and status (available or checked out).
I can't find the book I want.
  • Redo or broaden your search if you find nothing.
  • Try using other terms for word or subject searches.
  • Check for spelling mistakes. If you are looking for a title, did you type it in exactly?
  • Make sure you are using the right search function. Ex: If looking for a title, you should be searching by title. If searching for books from a PsycBook search, make sure you are searching for the title of the book and not the title of the chapter.
  • Limit the number of search terms used.
  • Make sure to try both Encore or the Classic Catalog to search for Alliant items. Then try, the LINKplus Catalog.
How can I request a book or dissertation from another Alliant library? (No charge).
  • Go to the library home page. Select Classic Catalog or search Encore.
  • Search for the book you want.
  • If the item is available, click on the "Request" button at the top or bottom of the page.
  • Enter your first name and your last name, with a space between your first name and last name.
  • Enter the 14-digit barcode. Do not use spaces or hyphens.
  • Click on "Submit". If you experience problems, go to the Log In FAQ.
  • If you need to select a particular volume click "submit" again and you should get a list of available volumes.
  • Dissertations published after 1996 may be available full-text through ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. From the library home page click on Databases and select the appropriate database from list.
  • Reference and Reserve items along with all items from Irvine and Sacramento locations are not requestable.


How can I request items from LINKplus libraries? (No charge).
  • From the library homepage, click on LINKplus.
  • Search by keyword, title, author, or subject, etc.
  • Click on "LINK+ library has this item" to check the status of the item.
  • If the item is available, click on "Request this item."
  • If the item is available at Alliant, redo your search and request in Encore or the Classic Catalog.
  • When asked "With which institution are you affiliated?" choose "Alliant Int'l Univ" from the pull down menu.
  • Type in your full name and your 14-digit barcode or ID number.
  • Select the pick up location. Items can be picked up at other LINKplus Libraries. [ More Information ]
  • Click on "Submit".
  • You should monitor your requests from the "My Library Account" link located on the library home page.
  • If you do not pickup your requested items within ten days items will be shipped back to the home library. "Pickup by" date is included on the pickup notices from the library.
How can I request a book from a library that is not Alliant or LINKplus (Interlibrary Loan-ILL)?
Note: This also covers any journal article request for materials not available at your home library or full-text from a database. If the ILL request is for an international item, patron must pay the total cost for filling the request.

Disclaimer: The Interlibrary Loan Department at your home library will try to obtain the material you requested, but please understand that some items are not available for loan. This can include dissertations from universities that do not loan. Request may take 1-5 weeks to arrive depending on the number of libraries (usually up to five) that the request is sent.
  • Go to the library home page.
  • Click on Interlibrary Loan.
  • Enter your name and barcode/ID #.
  • Click on the link that best describes the type of item you are requesting. Your choices are Book, Book Chapter, Dissertation, Journal Article, or Conference Proceedings.
  • Type in all the information you have. Incomplete requests create delays; please full out all requested fields.
  • Read the copyright notice.
  • If you have not checked the catalog to find out if your local Alliant library has the item, click on "Search the Library Catalog" to search for a book, dissertation or paper journal.
  • Click on "Submit This Request."
  • Your request may not show in "My Library Account" for 24-48 hours as the staff will need to process the request first.
How do I limit my search to only include books from my local Alliant library?
  • Go to the library home page.
  • Click on the "Advanced Search" (near the ENCORE search box). Limit your search by material type and/or by library location.
OR
  • Do a search in the Classic Catalog, then go to "View Entire Collection" pull down menu to the right of the Search box.
  • Click on your local library.
  • Click on the Submit button.
How do I know where an item is located?
  • Look in the first column on the left-hand side. It lists the library location and the type of collection.
  • The collections include main collection, tests, journals, and A/V. Ask your local library where these are located.
Tests do not have call numbers. Access to assessment materials are restricted. Ask your local library about the polices for checkout.
Video, DVD or other A/V materials may have a number or call number. Ask the circulation staff for the location and/or retrieval of materials.
Dissertations at most Alliant libraries are filed alphabetically by author's last name, with the following exceptions:
In Fresno, dissertations are filed by call number. The format is:
DIS (refers to the area of the library)
2001 (year completed)
A1 (where A is the first letter of the author's last name).

In San Diego, CSPP dissertations are filed alphabetically, but USIU dissertations are filed by call number. The format is:
BF (Library of Congress call number)
USIU (university)
2001 (year completed)
A1 (where A is the first letter of the author's last name).

I found a book in the catalog, but I can't find it on the shelves.
  • Check to make sure the item is available is not a reference or reserve item. The status is identified in the box on the right-hand side of the screen.
  • Check if the item is located in the main collection, or is in a separate section, like dissertations.
  • Check to make sure it is in your local library. The location of the item is identified in the box on the left-hand side of the screen.
  • If the item is located at another Alliant library, you can request it. Check the question on requesting books from other Alliant campuses.
  • Put a hold on the item and a staff member will search for it.
I tried to put a hold on a book, but I couldn't.  Why?
  • Holds may not be placed on tests or assessment materials.
  • Items in locations such as reference, reserves, or special collections cannot be placed on hold.
  • No holds may be placed on any items in Irvine or Sacramento.
  • Your library account may have a block or be expired.  Contact the library to find out if this may be the problem.
How do I find and access ebooks?
  • Start with a typical subject search in Encore.
  • When you receive the list of results, look along the left side of the screen under the heading "FORMAT" and refine by selecting "E-RESOURCE".
  • Follow the link in the record to access the content [Example]. Happy reading!


  • Updated 11/28/2012 bs