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Physics: Books

Library support for Physics

Introduction: using books effectively

Library books are available in two formats: traditional printed books or electronic books (also known as e-books). Irrespective of format, all books have a number of standard features. Understanding these features will help you find content relevant to your studies. Often you will not be expected to read a single book cover to cover but rather navigate several books and extract relevant information.

  • On the front cover or the title page of a book, you will find its title, information about author(s) or editor(s) and possibly edition and publisher details. These details are important to know when you want to refer to the book in your academic work.
  • Within the first few pages of the book, you will discover the contents page. This outlines the structure of the book, providing a chapter breakdown and page numbers to help you find relevant sections.
  • A bibliography usually appears at the back of the book, or at the end of a book chapter. It is a list of all sources used by the author(s) in the writing of the book or the chapter. It provides evidence of primary and secondary sources used.
  • Publisher information is usually found in the initial pages of the book. It is here that you will identify who the publisher is, and the place and date of publication. This information may appear with a copyright symbol.
  • At the back of the book there may be an index. This assists you in finding the specific pages which contain information relating to your chosen topic.

How to find a book on the library catalogue

QUB library holds a wide range of printed books and e-books that are relevant to your studies. To find these books, search the library catalogue (on the library homepage).

The Catalogue provides a listing of all books available to you as a student at QUB.

Printed books: understanding shelfmarks

Each book has a shelfmark, which is a combination of letters and numbers. Break this down into sections to make it easier to find the book you are looking for. For example:

Still confused? Don't worry, just contact us if you can't find what you are looking for - don't forget we are here to help!

Borrowing and returning books

You will find information on borrowing and returning books (including how many books you can borrow) here. 

Short Loan Collection

Printed reading list books in heavy demand are kept in the Short Loan Collection on the ground floor of the McClay Library. These books can be borrowed for either 2 Nights or 7 Nights; the library catalogue will provide the Loan Type for each title.


Search for e-books in the library catalogue and use the link in the record to connect to the full text. Library e-books can be read online (both on campus and at home) and some will allow you to download content for a fixed period.

NB e-book titles vary in their licencing restrictions; see E-books Guide for more details.

Recommend a book

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

If the library doesn't hold a book/e-book which you would like to read, or if you think there are not enough copies of a recommended text, please let me know. E-mail your suggestions to me at

I will consider every book/e-book purchase suggestion and, if appropriate, the book will be ordered for the library.

New Mathematics and Physics books in the Library

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Books in other libraries

If you want to see what academic books are available in libraries outside of QUB, you could try searching  Library Hub Discover. This is the combined catalogue of major UK and Irish libraries, including the British Library, university libraries and specialist research libraries. Staff and students can apply for books not held by QUB through the Inter-Library Loan scheme.