Use the UIUC Library Online Catalog to find books. In the Online Catalog you can search for books by subject. The Online Catalog will also tell you whether the Library owns a specific book, and, if so, where in the Library you can find it.
By default, you'll be searching UIUC's collection, but you can also select "all I-Share Libraries" to expand your search (see below).
Books and journals are organized in the library by subject. Each item is assigned one or more subject headings and a unique call number. Subject headings are standardized terms from the Library of Congress. Call numbers are based on the Dewey Decimal Classification.
Use WorldCat to find books and other research materials (newspapers!) in thousands of US and international libraries. Many of these items can be borrowed via Interlibrary Loan. Looking for fiction? The WorldCat search interface allows you to limit your search to fiction only (or non fiction only).
The UIUC Library is one of 130+ member libraries that compose a state-wide consortium called CARLI. You can find books in CARLI libraries by selecting "all I-Share libraries" when you're searching the UIUC Online Catalog. Use the "Request 1st Available" option to request books from other I-Share libraries.
It’s true that you can find sources on a topic by doing keyword searches. But if you limit yourself to keyword searching, you are likely to miss important material on your topic that uses other terms. If you only need two or three books, you can probably find what you need by doing keyword searches, but if you are doing historical research, you can’t afford to miss critical material on your topic. For a comprehensive subject search, search with subject headings as well as keywords.
A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the online catalog using terms you think describe the topic and try to identify a few relevant books. Look at the full record for those books to see what subject headings were used, then do another search on those headings.
As a rule of thumb, use fairly broad headings, as well as the specific ones that describe your topic, in order to make sure you haven't inadvertently eliminated relevant material that is contained within works of larger scope. Most likely you will find multiple headings to describe your topic, and you should use all of them. You can narrow your search in the online catalog by combining subject headings (as a phrase) with keywords, using the “Advanced Search” option.
In addition to the 13 million+ printed books available to you here in the Library, we also have a rapidly growing collection of digitized books.
Like most documents, books can be either primary or secondary sources, depending on the nature of your research questions.
Any books published in the time period you are studying can be used as primary sources in principle. To find them in library catalogs and digitized book collections, search by date of publication (for example, here are books about hippies published in the 1970s).
Primary source documents, whether they were published or unpublished at the time, are often collected and published as books at a later time. To find these kinds of books, use one or more of the following Library of Congress subject terms in your search:
Here's a sample search for nineteen sixties sources.