Skip to Main Content

International Student Workshop 2017 - Find a Book @ Ellis Library

Finding Books for Your Research

 Library Homepage


This guide will help you to:

  • Locate and navigate Discover@MU and the Classic Catalog
  • Access an eBook through the Discover@MU
  • Formulate basic Boolean search strings (AND, OR)
  • Submit requests through ILL and/or MOBIUS/Prospector
  • Locate a physical book in the library using a call number
  • Be familiar with some additional sources online to locate books

What Kind of Information do You Need?

What do you need?



General information and a wide variety of books and e-books to get you started on your research



  • Good place to start research
  • Search like searching Google
  • Limit results by format (books, e-books, dissertations)
  • Too many results? Search for keywords in title field

Books and E-Books

MERLIN Classic Catalog

  • Check location and status
  • Need call # to find book on shelf
  • Search by keyword, title, ISBN or author
  • Expand to MOBIUS search if MU doesn’t have the book

Books and Dissertations

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

  •  Fill out request form when you can’t find the book in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG or MOBIUS
  • Request form found under ‘Quick Links’ of library homepage

Forming a Research Question

1.  What's my topic?

  • How does mobile technology affect secondary education?

2.  What are my main concepts? 

  • mobile technology
  • secondary education

3.  What are other terms or synonyms for my topics? 

  • mobile technology: cell phone, smartphone, tablet, & wearable
  • secondary education: high school, public school, & pedagogy

Example Search Strings

(smartphone OR tablet OR wearable OR mobile) AND ("secondary education" OR "high school" OR pedagogy)

(wearable OR mobile) AND technology AND ("high school" AND pedagogy)


Examples of Boolean Search Modifiers

  • AND

Venn Diagramm: Boys AND China

A search for boys AND China or an "All the Words" search for boys China will only give you results containing BOTH words.

Use AND or All the words searches to narrow or focus your results.


  • OR


Venn Diagram: Heart OR Cardio

A search for heart OR cardio* or an "Any of the Words" search for heart cardio* will give you results containing EITHER word.

Use OR or Any of the Words for synonyms or closely related words.

  • * (truncation)

In many searches, adding an asterisk (*) to a group of letters searches for ALL words starting with those letters.

infan* will search for:

  • infant
  • infants
  • infantile
  • infancy
  • infanticide

  • "" (phrase searching)

Enclosing a string of words in parentheses with only return results in which the entire phrase is found. This method can be useful when searching about something very specific when the terms are broad and generic.

Example: As of February, 2017 in Discover @ MU

smartphone battery as a keyword search yields 98,193 results.

"smartphone battery" as a keyword search yields 900 results.

Adapted from Rachel Brekhus's Searching Skills LibGuide

Discover@MU - like a Google for the Library

Discover@MU is a quick and easy way to search all the materials MU Libraries provide.

By limiting your search to eBooks, it is easy to find eBooks with keyword searches.


MERLIN is the shared library catalog of the University of Missouri System.

MERLIN can be searched from the library homepage under the "Books & Media" tab or by going to the Classic Catalog.

MERLIN can be used to find books, eBooks, and more in any library on campus or

in any library in the University of Missouri system.

Requests for books held at other MERLIN libraries may be placed in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG. More on requests later...

Searches may be run by keyword, author, title, subject, and many more.

A call number is an address for books and other materials in the library.

PE 1128.A2 J53 2015 

    PE     1128     .A2 J53       2015  



 .A2 J53


Read letters in alphabetical order

e.g. P, PN, PQ...etc.


Read as a whole number

e.g. 1, 2, 3, 45, 100, 101, 1000, 2000, 3000, 3400, 3485 ...

Read numbers as a decimal

Read letters in alphabetical order

e.g. A83 comes before A9

e.g. .C65 comes before .65 

e.g. C724 comes before .724

Year of publication

Read in chronological order

e.g. 1985, 1991, 1992..

 More information on call numbers.


If your search in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG yields results, but the book is not available at MU or it is currently checked out, you may request the book to be sent to you from another MERLIN member library. Click the light blue button labeled request near the top left corner of the screen.

If your search in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG returns no results, try expanding your search to MOBIUS by pressing the blue "Search MOBIUS" button at the top right in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG.


Why search MOBIUS?

  • MOBIUS collectively holds about 16 million books, articles, and other materials.
  • It is free to request and items may be kept for 4 weeks and renewed twice.
  • Depending on the library, requests usually take 3-5 business days to arrive.

To request a book or other material, click the button labeled "Request It" to the right of your desired book.

If a title you are searching for is not in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG or MOBIUS, the next step is to search Prospector, another consortium MU participates in.

Prospector Search

Why search Prospector?

  • Similar to MOBIUS, Prospector is a very large consortia of libraries
  • Requests are free to make
  • Typically cheaper for the library to make requests versus ILL

ILL @ MU login

If you still cannot find the material you are looking for, file a request through our Interlibrary Loan office.
ILL will submit requests for materials on your behalf to other libraries.

Why use ILL?

  • Use ILL if the material you're searching for is not in the UM LIBRARIES CATALOG, MOBIUS, Prospector, or Discover@MU.
  • It is free.
  • You should never pay to access an eBook; that is what ILL is for!

After you search and find a book in the catalog, you need three pieces of information to locate your material.

  1. Location: Which library the book is located
  2. Call number: Where the book is exactly on the shelves
  3. Status: Whether the book is available, checked out, or missing.


Search by title walkthrough

Location (1)

  • tells us the book is in Ellis Library.

Call Number (2)

  • tells us exactly where it is.

Status (3)

  • tells us if it available.

Since the book is not checked out, write the call number down (or snap a photo), grab your MU ID and go to Ellis Library to retrieve the book.

If the book you want is at another library, or is currently checked out, click the Request button at the top left of the screen.
More information on Requesting Books

The first one or two letters and numbers at the beginning of the call number indicate which floor and section of the library the book is located.

  • Ex: 1A West, 4 East, or 2 Central.
  • See the Call Number Ranges table to the left.

Since the call number of "The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime" begins with PN, you notice that the book is in 3 Central.

Video directions to 3 Central

Self-guided virtual tour

Once you find your way to 3 Central each shelf will be labeled with the a range of call numbers. After you've found which shelf the book should be on, scroll the shelves by the first letters, then the numbers.

Circulation Status Codes

Status Code Meaning

If the book is still on the shelf, it can be checked out for a shorter amount of time because of a pending request on it.

BILLED A patron has kept it past the due date.

Checked out until the listed date.

If a book you want is currently checked out, you can learn how request the book from:

a MERLIN library

a MOBIUS library

Interlibrary Loan (ILL@MU)



Is being processed to be added to the library. It will soon be available to check out.



Not available to check out. It is being transferred between libraries.


May only be used inside of the library.

This code is usually reserved for Reference Books and books in Special Collections.


Is lost.

NEW BOOKS On a new book shelf in Ellis or a branch library.
NOT CHECKED OUT In the library and available to be checked out.
ON HOLD Has been recalled by a patron.
ON HOLD SHELF Being held at the circulation desk for the patron who has requested it.
UNDER CONSIDERATION In the approval room for the Library to evaluate. It will most likely be added to the library and soon be available to check out.


Don't despair!

There are three more places the book could be if the status is displayed as "NOT CHECKED OUT". Shelving materials in a library that has so many books is a large, labor-intensive workflow and books don't immediately return to the shelves once patrons bring them back.

  1. Check the reshelving area in the floor/section you're browsing.
  2. Check the "To Integrate" shelves in the section you are browsing
  3. If you still haven't found it, go to 4 East and talk to the shelving staff.

Triumphant and proud, take your book to the circulation/reserve desk.

Check out using your MU ID or guest borrower's card.

Request Books