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Tutorial: TOPCAT, the Library Catalogue: Reserves

An essential tutorial for understanding how to find what's in our Library.

Reserve Readings

Reserve Items in TOPCAT

A Reserve item is a physical copy of a complete work that a course instructor has set aside in the Library for a course. Your instructor will tell you what readings are on Reserve for your course, usually through your syllabus.

A Reserve item can be a book, video, or any library item that can be signed out. Many (or all) of the students in your class may need to read this item during the week it's assigned. Because of this, the load periods are very short: usually 3 hours. They also have high fine rates if you don't get them back in time.

Reserve items are kept behind the Service Desk in the Library, shelved by call number To obtain an item, provide the Library staff with the call number, which you find through TOPCAT.  The staff will sign out the item to you and tell you when it's due.  Don't pass it on to a friend or take it home by mistake; if it's not returned within the 3 hour limit, you'll get large fines.

All Reserve items are listed in TOPCAT, under a

  • title,
  • author,
  • course code, and
  • course name.

You can always find a Reserve item by author or title, but there are also specialized search options under the Reserves menu.

Information about Reserves policies and fines is on the Library website.

Course Material Vs. "Reserve"

There are several places your instructors can put readings for courses:

  • Links or files posted in your LearningSystem for the course (Blackboard).  The Library can't access these.
  • Textbooks or coursepacks/reprotexts.  You are expected to purchase these. In some cases, one copy could be on "Reserve" in the Library.
  • Physical "Reserve" in the Library (Bata or Durham).

Your syllabus should tell you where to find your readings.

Only "Reserves" are available through the Library. This tutorial shows how to find "Reserves" in the Library.  

Find Reserve Item Call Numbers in TOPCAT

Click on "Reserves" in the top menu of TOPCAT. 

Steps

  1. Enter your search term - either your instructor's last name, the official course number (code), or the first word or two from the course name
  2. Click on the button for Instructor, Course Number, or Course Name - whichever matches your search term. (This is important, because the default is instructor - not useful if you didn't enter an instructor's last name.)
  3. See a list of courses that apply.  Click on the course you're looking for.
  4. See a list of items on Reserve for that course.

You can also find Reserve items with a basic title or author browse, if you have that information.  Usually it's quicker.

Here's a screen capture of the Reserves Search screen:

Browsing

The Reserve search is a Browse, not a Keyword search. 

  • This means it looks for your term on a list - of instructors (by last name), course codes, or course names. 
  • You can move forward and backward on the list.
  • You must browse by the first term - not a word from the middle or end of an entry.

Course Number Example

  • Course codes look like: BIOL2050H
  • Enter "biol" to see all the Biology courses.
  • If you enter "biology", you won't find them!

Course Name Example

  • To find Applied Calculus, enter "applied".
  • If you enter "calculus", you come to the C section of the list, but this course name starts with A.
  • You can still get to it by clicking "Previous" to move backward through the list of course names.

Call Number Format

Call numbers for Reserve items could be the same as a Library call number, if they're books from our shelves.

If they're the property of an instructor, they'll have a number beginning with "P", followed by 5 numbers.  For example: P940432.

Here's a screen capture of a record of a book on Reserve.

  • The instructor's name and course are provided at the top.
  • The call number is listed at the bottom, under "Holdings". 
    • This is a personal copy of a book, so the call number begins with "P": P696481.
  • The location is Reserve. 
    • This means it's available.
    • If it was signed out, there would be a due date (and time) here.

screen capture of Reserve record

Practice

Pick one of your current courses and check to see if anything is currently on Reserve for it.

Tips for Finding Reserve Items

  1. If you know the title, try a title browse first - that's probably the most direct way.
  2. Click "Reserves" in the top menu to search for ALL items on Reserve by course or by instructor.
  3. Get the call number from TOPCAT and go to the Service Desk to request it.
  4. Most Reserve items have a 3-hour loan period and high fine rates for late returns.
  5. Not all course readings are on Reserve - check your syllabus carefully.
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