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Information Literacy Tutorial: Module 3Finding Books

Information Literacy Tutorial Sunsetting

The Information Literacy Tutorial is being replaced by the College-Level Research Tutorial

On July 1, 2021 we completed our year long beta roll out and assessment of the College Level Research Tutorial (CLRT). The CLRT will now be our primary undergraduate library skills tutorial. If you have questions about how to integrate materials from the CLRT in your course, please contact your librarian. Content on searching for, selecting and accessing books can be found int the new Books at UWM guide.

We will remove the link to the Information Literacy Tutorial July 1st, 2022.


Module 3- Explore

How do I find a call number on the shelf?

Follow these steps when you're looking for a book on the shelf.

  1. Find the correct letter combination. L comes before LA on the shelves.
  2. Look for the number - be sure to look for the whole number. 19 comes before 23 and 23 comes before 2340 (two thousand three hundred forty).
  3. In the last line, first locate the letter and then the decimal. .M371 will come before .M38

This image shows the order in which some sample call numbers would appear: L 19. M322, LA 23. M38, LA 2340. M371, LA 2340. M38

Module 3- Theory- Getting Meta About the Search

When you search a database you may learn something about the topic, just from the way the database organizes your search results. Databases are enriched with meta-data-- information about the information-- that makes searching more sensitive, but can also guide you to new ways of thinking about the sources you see in your results. Subject headings and other facet systems can also help you learn more about your research topic.

Vocabulary systems, like the Library of Congress Subject Headings in this graphic, guide you to more precise language and subsets of your topic. In this example of a search for Hip-hop, the database gives the user links to search Rap (music) as well as some narrower aspects of Hip-hop.The subject headings are like categories for discovering and searching more precise aspects of the topic.

This screen grab shows some of the subject headings related to hip-hop. For example it a suggested alternative subject heading is "Rap (Music)." There are also more specific subject headings that deal with specific aspects of hip hop. Examples include, "Hip-hop--New York (State)-- New York," "Hip-hop--Political aspects," "Hip-hop-- Religious aspects," "Hip-hop--Social aspects," "Hip-hop--Social aspects--United States," "Hip-hop--Social aspects--Wisconsin--Milwaukee," "Hip-hop--United States," "Hip-hop--United States--History," and "Hip-hop--Wisconsin--Milwaukee."

As you review the results of your search, subject headings and facets prompt you to ask critical questions about the results. What do I want to know about Hip-hop? What are the social aspects? What is meant by the “religious aspects” of Hip-hop?

Large search systems like Search@UW use meta-data to describe books, articles and media. Tags are assigned to each source to provide descriptive organization for those sources in the database. When you review your search results you will see various facets that can be used to narrow down the results.

This screen grab shows the menu for refining your search by subject. It lets you click check boxes to include or exclude various topics like African Americans, Rap Music, Popular Music, Folk Songs, United States, Race, Rhythm and Blues music and many more.

You can use the facets to ask critical questions about the sources you see in the results. In addition to these basic facets, the database also tags each source with vocabulary terms to help you identify the key concepts in that source. As you review the list of vocabulary terms, ask yourself questions about how you want to work with the results.  What specific topics in the list address your research question? For example, you may wish to explore aspects of Hip-Hop that are connected with Race. While the effect of choosing to include Race in your search results narrows down the number of sources, it also allows you to ask critical questions about the bigger topic of Hip-Hop with Race as the focus of your question.


The contents of the Information Literacy Tutorial may be reused with attribution. Please copy the following into new works based on the Information Literacy Tutorial.
Information Literacy Tutorial by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at