Library Research: A Step-By-Step Guide

Use this guide to learn more about the research process

Beyond Our Collection: Interlibrary Loan

Using the Interlibrary Loan Service

InterLibrary Loan: No library has it all! But the InterLibrary Loan (or ILL) is a service offered by Holman Library for borrowing books and articles from other libraries. InterLibrary Loan requests are free to current GRC students, faculty and staff.

For your research, it is important to search many places.
  • First, start with the books and articles available through the Holman Library.

  • Then, If you find books and articles that the Library does NOT have access to, just request them through Interlibrary Loan.

  • Using Interlibrary Loan increases the amount of resources available to you and helps you become a more thorough researcher.

  • Books and other items that require mailing may take 1-2 weeks.

  • Articles and other digital items may arrive within 2-5 days. Use your email as your contact info and the article will be sent directly to you.

If you need help filling out this form, call the library reference desk at (253) 931-6480.

Other places you can search...

Use the links below to look for books, articles and more beyond our collection:

Step 2b: Find books

Why Use Books?

  • can give you an in-depth analysis of your topic      
  • can get you a historical perspecitve on your topic to see how it has evolved over time
  • often are written by authors who are experts or have taken the time to do research on a particular subject
  • help you understand the complexity your topic

When you find a book...
  • you do not have to read the whole book! Instead look at the table of contents in the front to find which chapters will be most helpful to you
  • look in the back of the book.  Often there is a list of sources that the author consulted when he or she wrote the book.  You might want to use these sources for your research, too!

One Search refine results by Source Type = Books

Limiting to Books


As shown in the image below, you can limit the results in Holman Library One Search to just books by using the "Source Type" limiter of to the left.

  • Here you can select "Books" to view print books (held at the library) or ebooks (that you can access by clicking the link)

(click on image to enlarge)

screen shot of a results page, showing source types

Google Books - Previews

Find Previews of Books Through Google Books

Many of the books on the Google Books website allow you to view a preview. You can limit to these books using the instructions below. You may not see entire text of the book, but many of the chapters may be included. You can often find great information in these chapters.

  1. Search Google Books to find full text or partial text of books online
  2. Choose books from your search that indicate there is a "Preview" 
  3. Or limit to "Preview Available" under "Any books" on the tools menu (see image below)

(click on image to enlarge)

image of the results of a Google Books search, highlighting the tools to limit to "preview available" only books

Find a Book By a Call Number

What is a Call Number? 

The letters and numbers that you see on the spine of the book are called Call Numbers. These are unique to each book and provide information about the book. They're a part of the organization system the library uses, called the Dewey Decimal System. This means that books, and other items in the library, are grouped by larger subjects, so if you browse by call number, you'll find other related books.

The image below shows some books on a shelf, the stickers on the spines of the book is where you can see the Call number. You can think of this as the book's address. 

(click on image to enlarge)

image of the spines of books, as they sit on the shelf - highlighting the call numbers

(citation info below)

Call numbers in the catalog

As you can see in the image below, the online catalog also contains the call number and collection location in the library. Most books are in the library's Main Collection, upstairs. It's this number, that appears in the record for the book, that you can write down to help you locate the book inside the library. 

(click on image to enlarge)

image of search results, showing a book in the catalog, with the call number highlighted

Locating the book using the Call Number

The example from the image above reads: Main Collection 363.738 C639 2011. 
On the side of the book it looks something like this: 


  • To locate this book in the library you would look first for the 300s section in the Main Collection (the tallest/longest row of bookshelves), then narrow it down to find the exact decimal number. 

Image source: L, Greg. “Call Numbers of Books on Shelf.” Greene County Public Library,

Search inside electronic books