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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics): Use a Variety of Catalogs to Locate Books!

This guide will explore educational and career-oriented resources relevant to fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Get started with the SAILS Catalog

How do I locate a book on the shelf at BCC Libraries?

While it is certainly convenient to search the catalog and have books sent to your local library for pick up, browsing the collections of a library can be very productive; often revealing sources as good as - if not better - than what you initially found in the catalog! Below is the shelf range for books on the subject of mathematics and related topics and their approximate location on the shelf  as identified by the Library of Congress Classification System. If you need help finding your way around the library 'stacks,' ask any library staff member!

QA21-QA41      history of math, mathematicians

QA39.2-QA43   precalculus

QA93-QA99      mathematical recreations--puzzles, unsolved problems

QA101-QA145  arithmetic, basic math

QA150-QA297  algebra

QA171-QA188  linear algebra

QA273-QA295  probabilities, statistics

QA297-QA299  numerical analysis

QA303-QA316  calculus

QA371-QA387  differential equations

QA401-QA427  mathematical physics, engineering mathematics

QA440-QA699  geometry, topology, fractals

QA531-QA538  trigonometry

Locate electronic books with Ebrary

Find books from other libraries

Interlibrary Loan

Books not available through the BCC Libraries can be obtained through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) , a service free of charge to all current BCC students, faculty, and staff!

Librarians' Tip: Add keywords strategically to target your results

Before you go searching the library catalog for books on math, take a minute to think about what you want to do with the information. For example, do you:

  • Want some extra practice in algebra? Try adding the keywords "problems and exercises."      Example: algebra problems and exercises
  • Need to find biographical information on a 19th century mathematician? Try adding the term "biography."      Example: mathematicians biography
  • Need a dictionary of math terminology? Try adding the term "dictionaries."     Example: mathematics dictionaries

Click here to explore the parts of an individual item record to understand how to get a book once you locate it in the catalog!

What is "Controlled Vocabulary" and why should I care?

Controlled vocabulary is a standardized, specifically-chosen set of words or phrases used by a database to describe and categorize books, articles or other sources of information based on its content. Controlled vocabulary can also be referred to as Subjects, Subject Headings, Subject Terms, Descriptors, or Thesaurus. The table below outlines the difference between using a Controlled Vocabulary vs. general Keywords:

Controlled Vocabulary




Pre-defined, higher order terminology


Natural (conversational) language


Only searches the subject (or descriptor) field in a database record


Searches all the fields in a database record including title, abstract, text, etc.


Results usually relevant to your topic


Results may or may not be relevant to your topic


Narrows your search, providing fewer but more precise results


Broadens your search, providing more - but potentially less precise - results


Less flexible - searches only available, pre-defined subject headings


More flexible - searches newer or distinctive terms and acronyms with no defined subject heading








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Check out an informative, 3-minute tutorial on effective use of subject headings from the UC Berkeley Libraries, using the link below: