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Physics & Astronomy

Finding Books


The Gould Library has rich collections of books, journals, government documents, and other resources. You may access them via Catalyst, the online catalog that is shared by Carleton and St. Olaf. You may search Catalyst by title, author, subject, or word.


Call Numbers & Subject Headings

Relevant Library of Congress Call Numbers

This is only a partial list of the call numbers pertaining to Physics. For a complete listing, go to the Library of Congress Classification Outline, provided by the Cataloging Policy and Support Office of the Library of Congress.

  • QB1 - QB145 Astronomy
  • QC 6 General Relativity
  • QC 20 Mathematical Physics
  • QC 73 Conservation Laws (Physics)
  • QC 122 - QC 168 Mechanics
  • QC 122 - QC 168 Motion
  • QC 141 - QC 168 Fluids
  • QC 171 - QC 197 Matter
  • QC 173 - QC 175 Field Theory (Physics)
  • QC 174 Quantum Theory
  • QC 178 Gravitation
  • QC 350 - QC 495 Light
  • QC 350 - QC 467 Optics
  • QC 501 - QC 721 Electricity
  • QC 721 Electrons
  • QC 751 - QC 771 Magnetism
  • QC 801 - QC 808 Cosmic Physics
  • QC 806 Geophysics
  • QC 851 - QC 999 Meteorology
  • QC 883 Cosmic Physics- Meteorology
  • TC 160 - TC 179 Hydraulics

Sometimes, it can be very helpful to simply head down to the stacks (Physics books are on the 3rd floor) and browse the shelves where books on your topic are. 

Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings are the words and phrases that you will use to do a subject search for books in Catalyst (as opposed to a keyword search, where you may use any words you like). Although Physics is a Library of Congress Subject Heading, you will probably get better results if you are more specific. If you are interested in thermodynamics for instance, use the subject heading Thermodynamics. Be aware that some words and phrases that may seem very natural to you will not be Library of Congress Subject Headings. Note also that, in general, the articles listed in Catalyst do not use Library of Congress Subject Headings, so it is best to use them when looking exclusively for books. 

Typically, the best way to find relevant subject headings is to begin with a general keyword search on your topic. Once you find an appropriate source in your search results, examine the subject headings assigned to it. You may then click on a subject heading to perform a search in Catalyst for other sources which have been assigned the same heading. If you cannot find a source using a keyword search, ask a librarian for help.


Background information on your topic

A database of reference sources (encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc).  This search box searches all the online reference encyclopidias in the database.  Make sure you pay attention to the bibliographies in the entries, too!

Reference Books

Use these sources at the beginning of your research to get an overview of a topic or to identify synonyms, related terms, or simply data that will apply to your topic. Later, return to these sources to clarify concepts or define new vocabulary. These sources often include bibliographical references that may prove helpful.

McGraw Hill
Ref Q 121.M3 2007
A twenty volume science reference work.

Macmillan Encyclopedia of Physics
Ref QC 5.M15 1996
Over 700 articles on topics in physics and its subdisciplines.

Popular Physics and Astronomy an Annotated Bibliography
Ref QC 24.5 .S65 1996
This is a great place to get started. Lists many areas of physics and where the original literature on these topics can be found.

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