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Books can help you

  • find a comprehensive discussion of your topic
  • lay the foundation for your research
  • identify questions, answers, and ideas related to your research
  • identify additional resources in the bibliographies they contain

Books are

  • works of substantial length
  • treatment in detail of a single subject or class of subjects
  • issued as individual units
  • considered complete at the time of publication
  • the opposite of serials
  • categorized as fiction or non-fiction

Always consult multiple sources because the book you have may not be current and may present only one point of view on your topic.

Types of non-fiction books

Non-fiction works deal with facts and reality. They cover every subject and are often categorized as:


  • record academic study and research.
  • report on original research or experimentation
  • use technical or scholarly language
  • include supporting graphs, charts, and references
  • are often published by university presses or professional organizations


  • are frequently handbooks or manuals
  • are written for a particular audience, such as chemists or engineers
  • are often published by professional societies


  • written by professional in the field for other members of that profession
  • often published by professional societies


  • may be written to inform readers
  • may be written to entertain readers
  • may be written to promote a point of view
  • generally use non-technical language
  • generally do not include supporting references
  • dust jackets are designed to catch the reader's eye

Types of fiction books

Fiction is works of imagination and generally are not based on fact. They are read for study or pleasure. Fiction includes:

  • novels
  • novellas
  • short stories
  • drama
  • poetry

To find books

To find non-fiction, do a SUBJECT search in the library catalog on your topic. Or, you can do a KEYWORD search on the most important concept of your topic. However, remember that a keyword search will result in more irrelevant references than a subject search will.

To find fiction, do an AUTHOR or TITLE search in the library catalog.

Another way to identify relevant fiction or non-fiction on your topic is to search WorldCat. WorldCat is a compilation of library catalogs from a wide variety of libraries into one searchable database. If you don't find any useful books in your own library catalog, WorldCat is a good next place to look.

If you have difficulty finding a relevant book or the specific book you need, ASK A LIBRARIAN.