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Welcoming International Students to Smith College Libraries: Finding and Using Books

This is an introduction to library services for international students at Smith College.

More Terms

Check Out - is the word that librarians use when you borrow materials from the library, by taking them to the circulation desk together with your OneCard. The library staff will call up your record using the barcode on your OneCard, and then check the item out to you using the barcode on the item.

Due Date - The due date is the date which library materials on loan should be returned or renewed. If you do not return library materials by the designated due date, you are subject to fines or loss of borrowing privileges. The due dates are different for books, CDs, and videotapes.

Hold - you can place a hold on an item that isn't currently available. When it becomes available (either because it has been recalled from another user or has been newly cataloged) it will be kept on a hold shelf at the circulation desk for you.

Loan Period - This term refers to the length of time library materials may be borrowed. Generally, Smith College Libraries' books have a one month loan period for students and a one year loan period for faculty.

Recall - is the word librarians use when a person wants to request a book that has already been checked out by another person. When the book is returned to the library, it will be held for the requestor, who will be notified. If a book you have borrowed is recalled, you must return it to one of the Smith College Libraries within one week.

Renew - when you are not finished using your library materials by the due date, you can extend the loan period for the book that you have checked out unless another user has recalled the book, by using the “MY ACCOUNT" feature in the Five Colleges Libraries Catalog.

Library Catalogs

Five Colleges Libraries Catalog - the database you use to search for books, journals, movies, music held by the Five Colleges. Library staff will often say "did you search the catalog?", and they mean the Five Colleges Libraries Catalog. Sometimes they will say ALEPH, which is the name of the software that runs the library catalog.

  • Title - means the title of the book, journal, movie or album. It does not mean the title of an article. It may include individual songs on an album if the library has done very detailed cataloging.
  • Author - the person who wrote or edited the book. Search in this order: family name, personal name. If you aren't sure of the order, use the author keywords search
  • Subject - subject headings are "controlled vocabulary" and have a particular order to them. If you don't know the kinds of subject headings that are used for your topic, search by subject keywords instead so that the order doesn't matter.
  • Call number - is a unique number assigned to each item so that they can sit on a shelf in order. Call numbers include a classification number that puts similar materials together. Then there is a cutter number (usually the first letter of the author's name or title plus numbers) and finally a year or volume number.  Smith College has older materials classified in Dewey Decimal classification numbers, and newer materials in Library of Congress (LC) classification numbers. 
  • Location - AC=Amherst College, HC=Hampshire College, MH=Mount Holyoke College, SC=Smith College, UM=University of Massachusetts
  • Stacks - open shelves that contain the circulating collection.
  • Request Item - this is a button that allows you to borrow materials not held by Smith College. The staff at that library will pick up the book from the shelves and send it over to Smith. It will take a day or two to arrive, and then you can check it out at the Circulation Desk at Smith College. Easy, fast, and no charge.
  • Storage -When there isn't enough space in the library but no one wants to throw away the item, it is sometimes sent to storage. Smith has its own storage facility called West Street Storage. Books and journals that are kept there are listed in the catalog with the location SC/Storage. You will need to fill out a form to request them and they will be delivered to the Neilson Library for you to use.

Worldcat - is a database that includes the library holdings of libraries around the world. If you have searched the Five Colleges Library Catalog and not found what you need, try Worldcat next. Then if you find exactly what you need, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan.

    Interlibrary Loan - also abbreviated to ILL (pronounced I-el-el) is when the library staff ask another library to lend us a book. In this case, you will need to fill out a request, using the form provided for you. It will take longer for the books to arrive because they are coming from other parts of the country, but it is still easy, and no charge to you. Smith College pays on your behalf.

      Subject Guide

      Sharon Domier's picture
      Sharon Domier