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Searching Catalyst for Books

Books & eBooks

Search Catalyst for books

Catalyst is the joint library catalog for Carleton and St. Olaf. You can use Catalyst to find books, dvds, journals, articles, and more. If you are searching for books, use the Books tab (or the shortcut search box above), which will search for books at Carleton and St. Olaf. If you find a book at St. Olaf, request it through Catalyst or go to St. Olaf to check it out.

Search tips

Start with a keyword search on your topic, which will search for your words in the title, table of contents (if available), subject headings, and author fields. If you get too many results, take a look at the choices along the left side of the page to narrow your search.

Limiting Your Search to Textbooks

Textbooks tend to provide more accessible overviews of topics than peer-reviewed articles, which can be dense and difficult to follow. After performing a search in Catalyst, you can limit your search results to only include textbooks by looking under the search filter labeled "Genre/Form" and choosing "Textbooks."


If you find a book that looks great for your topic, look at the record for that book to help you find other relevant books:

Subject headings

These are listed in the center of the full details page for an item, and are the Library of Congress Subject Headings for the book. If one of those headings really captures your topic, click on it to find all the other books with that subject heading.

Browsing the shelves

The books in the library are shelved in call number order, so books on a similar topic are shelved together. Take time to look at the books shelved near books that you've found. You can also use Catalyst to virtually browse the shelves: click on a record for a print book title (ebooks are not included in this feature) and scroll down to Virtual Browse to see books that would be shelved nearby.

[visual description: screenshot showing book titles in the Catalyst virtual browse]

Finding Books on the Shelves

When you've found the book you're interested in, you need to note three things from the Catalyst catalog:

  • The status: Tells you if the book is available or not. If it's not available, click on the status note and you will get more information such as when the book is due. When a book is checked out to someone else, you can request it and the person who has it checked out will need to return it within a week. You'll be notified when the book has been returned.
  • The Location: Tells you which campus and library the book is in and which part of the library it's in. Most books at Carleton are in the Books section, found on floors 1-3.
  • The Call Number: Tells you where on the shelves the book will be. Click "Map It!" for a map showing a map with the location of the book highlighted.

For information on how our library is laid out and what is on each floor, take a look at our online library tour.