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What's in the Library: Books: Finding Monographs

Finding Print Monographs at OCAD U

Three main options are available; any can work depending on your information and research needs:

1. Browsing the Print Collection


Although librarians may tell you that you have to have a specific call number when accessing the print collection to make the most efficient use of your time, exploring the broad range of subjects in the collection can be an inspiring way to explore research in an intensely open and creative manner. As one student claimed in a survey of students artists in the library, browsing through the library's book shelves is like an active, embodied version of the creative process. By passing through subject ranges and quickly glimpsing the titles of books, a host of innovative and unexpected correlations can be made. Such random and innovative connections are the essence of creativity.

See: Frank, Polly. "Student Artists in the Library: An Investigation of how they use General Academic Libraries for their Creative Needs." The Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 25, no. 6, 1999, pp. 445-455.



It is not an efficient way to retrieve:

  • a book by a specific author or title
  • a more focused subject area or an interdisciplinary one (in which case books could be in different sections, for ex. books on "wayfinding" can be in computer sciences, urban planning, graphic design, or architecture.

In each of these cases, it is best to use:

  • the Library Catalogue to find specific call numbers

Get to Know Call Number Ranges

The OCAD U Library is organized using Library of Congress Call Numbers, which help us put books on teh same subject in the same sections. This will help empower your browsing capabilities.

But, also knowing broad subject areas (or "Main classes") can help you in browsing; some of the ones useful for art, design, or visual culture research include:


  • BF psychology
  • BH aesthetics
  • BL world religions





  • GA geography & cartography
  • GT fashion
  • GV leisure, sports & games

H -- SOCIAL SCIENCES - including

  • HD urban planning & cities
  • HF advertising & marketing
  • HM social history & culture
  • HN urban planning & cities
  • HQ gender studies

N -- FINE ARTS - including

  • NA architecture
  • NB sculpture
  • NC drawing & graphic design
  • ND painting
  • NE printmaking
  • NH photography & film studies
  • NK decorative arts


  • PN literature & graphic novels
  • PS Canadian literature

Q -- SCIENCE - including

  • QA math & computer sciences
  • QE geology
  • QH natural history & biology
  • QL zoology
  • QM human anatomy


T -- TECHNOLOGY - including

  • TA engineering
  • TH building construction
  • TL motor vehicles & automobile design
  • TR photography
  • TS industrial design
  • TT jewellery, woodworking, textiles, ceramics, other decorative arts
  • TX culinary arts


2. Searching the Catalogue


The Library Catalogue is excellent for:

  • searching for specific books by title or author
  • finding a well-curated selection of the best examples of art & design related titles
  • using a general keyword search to find the best examples of art & design related titles
  • finding out the subject headings associated with your research topic (see: What is Research? Search Terms)


The Library Catalogue can be a problem when you:

  • do not know the exact title of a book: 
    • WHY? the catalogue will not search variants of a word or auto-correct spelling mistakes
  • are searching for new innovative subjects, such as wayfinding, biomimicry, internet microsites, etc.
    • WHY? the catalogue uses Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe books and many new, interdisciplinary topics are not included as official "subjects"
  • need to keyword search the entire text of a book.
    • WHY? the catalogue only searches a book:
      • title
      • author
      • subject heading
      • and sometimes table of contents, or brief descriptions of the book (from the book jacket or form the publishers' description)

In each of these cases, it is best to use:

  • Summon search for a more broad and open way to access the library's print books

Using the Library Catalogue

Keyword Searches

Select the default keyword search for:

  • general searches on topics, art movements, artists, etc.

Use the dropdown menu for general searches for:

  • authors, including artists or designers as authors
  • subjects
  • videos or DVDs

Browse Searches

Select the browse search option for:

  • specific SUBJECTS such as art movements, artists, geographic regions
  • specific AUTHORS: remember to use the last name first!
  • books that have very common TITLES, such as
    • "Art History" by Marilyn Stokstad; a general keyword search on art history will retrieve almost 5, 000 book titles, so is not an efficient way to find one specific book!
  • searching for PRINT JOURNALS by title

Advanced Search

Select the advanced search option for:

  • combining KEYWORD or SUBJECT search terms and specific AUTHORS, such as:
    • finding a book about printmaking (general keyword) but specifically by Picasso (as author)
  • searching for books in SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, such as:
    • Reference books only (for example to find a catalogue raisonné on an artist)
    • Rare Books or Bookworks
    • DVDs only
    • VHS tapes only

3. Searching Summon for Print Books


Using Summon to search for books is excellent for:

  • keyword searching the entire text of a print book
  • retrieving more results when searching for interdisciplinary topics, or new innovative areas of research
  • using the Summon search results to quickly format book titles for citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style
  • finding out whether a print book title at OCAD U is also available as an e-book (both print and electronic books will be displayed together)



Using Summon for finding print books can be a problem if you:

  • only need one or two books on a topic; sometimes having too many results is not helpful in deciding on the best book on your topic
  • have limited time to go to the library and retrieve the book; searching Summon for print books only requires a number of limits to be put in place when searching, so sometimes going directly to the Library Catalogue can be faster.

Using Summon for Print Books

From the library hompage:

  1. select More Search Options
  2. type in keyword terms, book titles, authors, or general subject
  3. find the "Content Type" box and scroll down to limit by "Book/eBook"
  4. find the "Limit to" section and select to "Items in the library catalogue"
  5. click "Search"

All the results you see will be print books that are included in the library's collection. Note that using Summon allows you to:

  • use the citation feature to quickly format book titles in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style
  • quickly see whether the book is "checked in" or "check out" to someone else
  • store up book citations in the "Save this item" folder then
  • email citations for books in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style