Find Materials

Steps to Finding Materials with Catalogs

Step 1: Review the Beginning your research section
  • If you are unsure on how to begin finding information on your research topic, please review the Beginning your research section of the Research Coach.
Step 2: How materials are classified and arranged

Classification Systems

  • Most academic libraries use the alphanumeric Library of Congress Classification System to arrange materials on similar topics physically together on the shelves.

Call Numbers

  • Materials are assigned a call number to indicate subject content and location.
  • The call number is usually on the spine label.

Examples of call numbers

























Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • To avoid confusion about how to describe the subject content, most academic libraries have agreed to use the subject headings as proscribed by the Library of Congress.
  • Catalogers determine the subject content and then assign subject headings, using words that best describe the subject(s).
  • Catalogers use a resource called the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to assign the subject heading(s).
    • A resource can be assigned more than one subject heading.
  • Being familiar with subject headings can help you locate very specific resources on your research topic.
  • The multi-volume Library of Congress Subject Headings are located in the Library's Reference Department.

Examples of Library of Congress Subject Headings

Civil War, U. S., 1861-1865

Use United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865

Common Shares

Use Shares

Example of a PacCat (Pacific University's on-line catalog) record


Lott, Eric.


Love and theft : blackface minstrelsy and the American working class / Eric Lott.


New York : Oxford University Press, c1995.




Main Stacks

ML1711 .L67 1995



314 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


Race and American culture


Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-303) and index.


Minstrel shows -- United States -- History and criticism.

Working class -- United States.

United States -- Race relations.

United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.


019509641X (pbk.)



SuDoc Classification System

  • Publications from all United States government sources are assigned call numbers by the Superintendent of Documents in Washington, D.C., called SuDoc numbers.
  • Unlike the Library of Congress classification systems, the SuDoc system is based on:
    • Department or agency
    • By subject content
  • The Library's Government Documents collection on the second floor.

Examples of SuDoc numbers

A 1.1:


HE 5.524:

S 4013


SI 6.2:

Am 3/4

Y 4.AG 4/2:

E 2/6


  • The first line of the SuDoc number indicates, in alphanumeric code, the department and the agency responsible for the publication and the type of publication (annual report, periodical, handbook, etc.)
  • The first line ends with a colon.
  • The second and subsequent lines identify the individual publication.
Step 3: Search Strategies
  • The most common approaches to searching a catalog are:





Enter the author's last name to locate material by that author.

Corporate authors (American Psychological Association) are also included.

Enter as much of the title as possible.

By using this option, the catalog will search several "fields" that contain the search term(s).

BE AWARE -- you may retrieve titles that are not relevant to your initial search!

Review the results of the search.

Determine the title(s) that best meets your research needs.

Once you have the catalog record available, look at the Subject Heading.

This is where you can also locate the Library of Congress Subject Heading term(s) that best describes the subject content!

This is where you enter the Library of Congress Subject Heading term.

The multi-volume Library of Congress Subject Headings are located in the Library's Reference Department.

Step 4: Use the catalogs to locate materials on your research topic

Pacific University








The Library's various collections include:

  • Archives/Special Collections
  • Main (circulating) Collection
  • Periodicals
  • Reference materials
  • Reserve materials
  • Theses
  • United States Government documents
  • Videos/DVDs

Summit is a library consortium composed of 30 Oregon and Washington college and university libraries.

WorldCat has over 46 million catalog records.

The WorldCat catalog includes:

  • books
  • computer data files
  • computer programs
  • films and slides
  • manuscripts
  • maps
  • musical scores
  • sound recordings
  • titles of magazines, journals, and newspapers
  • videotapes

Pacific University is a member of the PORTALS (Portland Area Library System) Consortium, composed of Portland-area libraries.

The lending library will issue a PORTALS Pass upon presentation of current identification from the home university or college as well as another piece of ID with a home address.

PORTALS borrowers can borrow up to five items per visit.


The Library has provided links to other commonly used catalogs:

  • Libraries in Oregon Home Pages
  • WILI (Washington County Library System)
  • Library of Congress
  • MELVYL (University of California)
  • University of Washington
  • US National Library of Medicine
Step 5: Write/print your results (citations)
Step 6: How to locate the material in the Pacific University Library
  • With the Call number, you are able to locate the material on the Library's shelves.
    • Floor Maps
  • If you need assistance, please ask at the Circulation or the Reference Desk.
  • Please have your current, validated Pacific University ID card so you may check out the material.
Step 7: How to obtain the material if not available in the Pacific University Library

Try this First

Try this Second

Try this Third

Try this Fourth



Summit catalog


Pacific University Interlibrary Services

PORTALS libraries

If you used another catalog, please check for that title in PacCat first.

If the book is not available at Pacific University, you can obtain the book using one of the following methods in the next columns.

Try the Summit catalog automated borrowing feature.

Once you have your book citation in the Summit catalog, click on Request this item link

You will need your Library barcode to complete the borrowing process.

If you do not have a Library barcode, please visit the Circulation Desk.

You will be notified by E-mail that the item has arrived at the Pacific University Library so you can pick it up.

The book will be held for you for 5 days, then it will be returned to the original library.

Try the WorldCat catalog to retrieve the catalog record and then lick on the ILL icon.

WorldCat will attach the citation information to your request, which is then submitted electronically to Pacific University's Interlibrary Loan Department for processing.

Complete a Pacific University Interlibrary Loan form .

The Interlibrary Loan forms are available only on the Library's web pages.

You will be notified by E-mail that the book has arrived at the Pacific University Library so you can pick it up.

Drive to that specific PORTALS library to check out the material(s).

Remember to take your current, validated Pacific University ID card and another piece of paper with your current address on it.

Step 8: Evaluate the materials