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Sociology Research Guide: Finding Books

An introductory guide to research in Sociology at Sacred Heart University Library

Searching the Library Catalog

Use the Library Catalog to search our collection of over 310,000 books, videos, journal titles*, and other resources, including links to over 150,000 electronic books and almost 50,000 electronic journals.

Keyword searching is a good place to start, since it uses natural language – you can search your topic in your words.  A keyword search will return records that include the words you entered, anywhere in the record – title, chapter heading, subject, etc.  This can make a search very broad – but is also very useful in finding your topic in, say, just one chapter of a book. To narrow a too-broad keyword search, browse the subject links on records of the books that are most relevant to your topic, and click to find other relevant books.

Search the catalog by title if you are looking for a particular book, or by author for a particular person’s works.

Subject searching uses a controlled vocabulary – for example, the subject heading in our catalog for “Social inequality” is “Equality.”  If you search “Social inequality” as a keyword, you will find records that include those words – say, in the title of the book.  If you search “Equality” as a subject, you will get records for books on the topic, whether those books describe “Social inequality” or “Equality”.  

A keyword search looks for words, but a subject search looks for a concept. Because of their different strengths, using both keyword and subject searching will often get the best results.

Use Advanced Keyword Search for additional search options, and to limit your search by location, type of material, language, or year.

*To search for journal articles focused on the discipline of Sociology, use this page for further information.

Exploring the Shelves

If you want to simply browse the shelves of the Ryan Matura Library for materials, you can look for works on Sociology by call number. Use the subclass designations at the beginning of the call number to direct you to information on the topic of your choice. Below is a list of the Library of Congress subclass call numbers for Sociology:

  • HM  Sociology (general)
  • HN  Social history and conditions, social problems, social reform
  • HQ  Family, marriage, women
  • HS  Societies and clubs
  • HT  Communities, classes, races
  • HV  Social pathology, social and public welfare, criminology

Book Search

Narrow or broaden your search using these tools:

Physical Book Search  -  Locate materials available in the SHU library

Worldwide Book Search  - Find materials from SHU and libraries worldwide.


Electronic Books

While books in the collection, whether print or digital, can all be found using the library catalog, a large number of the library's electronic book collection is accessible directly from the eBook Academic Collection.

-eBook Academic Collection

On the eBook Academic Collection homepage, click on the eBooks link at the top of the page.

From the "Basic Search" page, find the "Browse by Category" menu to the left of the page and select "Social Sciences."

From the "Results List" page, you can further limit your results by using the "Refine Results" menu to the left of the page. Additionally, you can utilize the "Advanced Search" functions, located below the search box, to search for specific titles, subjects, authors, etc. within the "Social Sciences" section.

Interlibrary Loan

What is Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

Interlibrary loan (ILL) is a free service that obtains books and articles that the library does not own.  All faculty, staff and students can use this service.  All you need is a current SHU email address and password to set up an ILL account.  First time users can visit the library website to activate this account.  Remember, this is not an immediate service.  Some requests may take longer than others.  Contact Shari Baron at 203-371-7705 and/or with any questions.


Request an Interlibrary Loan

Please note: Before requesting an article, a book chapter, or book through the interlibrary loan, please search Sacred Heart University Library's catalog and Quick Search to make sure the library does NOT own the resource.  We cannot request items that we already own.  Consult the Reference Desk (203-371-7726) on the 1st floor of the Ryan Matura Library if you need further assistance determining the availability of an item. 

SHU Library Minute: InterLibrary Loan from Sacred Heart U Library on Vimeo.