Books & articles: Services & resources for Fraser International College (FIC) students

The Library Catalogue: Search for books, articles, and more

The Library Catalogue is a powerful tool to searching SFU library for books and articles, all at the same time.

See the Library Catalogue search guide for tips and strategies for more advanced searching. 

Print books

Most of the books in SFU libraries are non-fiction, but the library also has literature, children's books, and novels. Books in the library are organized according to what they are about

Finding books on the shelf

When you look for a book on the Library website or look at it on the shelf, you will find its call number.

Spine of a book showing the call number.

This is a call number as you will see it attached to a book.

A call number is a book's address. Books that are related will have similar call numbers and be located close to one another. A call number must be read in sequence:

  • The letter codes are read alphabetically. P comes before PA, which comes before PB
  • The first number is read as a whole number and is organized from lesser to greater. 456 comes before 4560
  • The four-digit number near the end of the call number is the year of publication

Finding books on the library website

You can search for a book title, author, or keywords in the Library Catalogue. You can also use the catalogue to do advanced searching. Write down the call number and use a floor plan to learn where you can find and get your book. For more information about Catalogue search, please refer to the Library Catalogue search guide.

You can browse books by subject by visiting the shelves. All books with similar subjects will be close to one another.

Finding ebooks

The SFU Library has many ebooks. See How do I get ebooks? for more information.

Reading books: Strategies for better and quicker understanding

Finding a good book that is related to your research topic is great, but what are you supposed to do if it's 300 pages long? Do you have to read it all?


You do not have to read the entire book front to back. Most of the books in the library are not meant to be read through from the beginning to the end. You can select a section or chapter, and that on its own will make sense.

You can decide what parts of the book to read by looking at:

  • The table of contents. This will give you a list of the chapters in the book.
  • The index. This will give you a list of important words and concepts in the book and page numbers to help you find them.
  • The introduction. Often the introduction will give a description of the parts of the book and an explanation of how the parts fit together.

Paul Edwards from the University of Michigan has written a guide on How to Read a Book which offers more tips and strategies.

Finding articles: Using databases for research-video

Journal articles are different from books because they are short and specific. You will find journal articles in databases, and you can get to the databases through articles found in Library Search or the Library Catalogue. You can also find recommended databases by subject in the research guides, or by browsing database titles alphabetically or by subject area in the database directory.

A journal is a collection of articles (like a magazine) that is published regularly throughout the year. Journals present the most recent research, and journal articles are written by experts, for experts. A certain level of background knowledge is required, so consult encyclopedias and dictionaries both before and during article research.

To find more database suggestions, find your research subject area in the list of research guides and click on the "books and articles" tab, or browse databases by subject in the database directory.

Learn to search Academic Search Premier effectively-video

Reading articles: Strategies for quicker and better understanding-video