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Research Help: Information for New Students

Information for New Students

How do I get a library card?

You already have one! Your Mount Allison student ID card is your library card.

How many books can I take out of the library?

You can borrow up to 50 books at one time for 3 weeks each.

How do I find books and articles?

Books, ebooks, journal and magazine articles and other library materials such as movies on DVD and VHS, music on vinyl and compact disc, sheet music and government publications can be found using Novanet which is found on the library's web site.

Novanet pulls together resources from multiple sources and displays them in a single list of relevance-ranked results. Unfortunately, it does not search everything the library has to offer; it searches most, but not all library databases.  Get more details here.  

Novanet also searches the collections of other Novanet libraries.  Novanet is a consortium of libraries that includes all universities in Nova Scotia and now also includes Mount Allison.  As a result, Mount Allison students, faculty and other patrons can now search and get access to books and other materials available in the Mount Allison Libraries collections and beyond, through other Novanet libraries.

Finding Books in our Collections

Books available in our collections are identified in the Novanet Search Results list by a note that says: Available at Mount Allison University. 

When the book you want comes up, you'll see a "call number" composed of letters and numbers (something like PS 8569 O488 S76 1985). Take note of the call number since you'll need it to find the book on the shelf.

Call numbers can be a little tricky to read at first. They are in alphabetical order, with single letters coming first (e.g. P, PA, PS). After the letters, the numbers are in regular order (e.g. 5, 10, 51, 106). The next letters are in alphabetical order again, but the next numbers are in decimal order (e.g. 10, 106, 5, 51). It sounds confusing, but it should get easier as you use the library more. For more on call numbers, see the guides listed under Understanding Call Numbers on the Research Tips page. 

Because we have so many books in our library, we've divided the floors by call number. Books with call numbers beginning with A-G are on the top floor, H-P are on the second floor, and Q-Z are two floors down from the main floor.

The R.P. Bell Library Floor plans on the Library Directory page provide a pictorial description of the arrangement of materials in the building.

The Library Directory provides a list what is located on each floor of the Library.

Searching for Articles

As mentioned above, Novanet searches for articles in most but not all library databases.  

In addition, Novanet does not search the full text of articles, and certain database search features and functionality are not available in Novanet. 

For these reasons, Novanet can be a good place to start your search for many topics, but searching individual databases in addition or instead of Novanet may be the best option in some cases.  For more information, please see Which Search Tool Should I Use?

Library Databases

The Mount Allison Libraries subscribe to dozens of databases, so the one(s) you use will depend on the subject of the articles you are searching for.

All library databases are listed in the A-Z List of Databases.  From there, you can browse the list by subject to find the databases most suitable to your topic.

Most library databases are accessible online from outside the library.  When prompted to log in, simply provide the same user name and password you would use to check your Mt.A email.

Subject Guides and Getting Help from a Librarian

Library subject guides offer another good place to start.  These guides list appropriate databases for each subject and bring together other discipline-specific resourcse. 

And, of course, you can always ask a librarian for assistance in choosing and using library databases.

What happens when my books are overdue?

When your books - or any other library materials - are overdue, you will be charged a fine. Fines for most materials are 25¢ per item per day - e.g. if you have 8 books out and they are 3 days overdue, your fines would be $6.00. Some materials have higher fines. Overdue course reserves can be as much as $2.00 per hour, and fines for recalled books are $1.00 per day. Fines can add up quickly so make sure you check your library record regularly and renew materials before they are late. If you have more than $20 in fines, you will not be able to borrow any more materials or renew those you already have out.

What if I lose or do not return an item?

If you lose an item or have been charged for items not returned, notify the Access Services Department. There is a $100 fee for each item. If you find and return an item within 12 months of being billed for its replacement, and the item has not yet been replaced, you will be reimbursed $80 per item; the $20 overdue fine per item is still applied. If the item is returned after it has been replaced or after 12 months no refund is possible.

Can I make photocopies in the library?

Yes, there are photocopiers on the main floor of the library, and one in the Music Library as well.

Library staff will photocopy materials for you, but there will be an extra fee and a time delay, so it's best to do it yourself.

For more information about photocopying, please see Printing in the Library on the Services for Students page, the Copyright Information page, and the University Copyright Guidelines.

How do I send documents to the library printers?

Printers and photocopiers are located on the Main floor of the Library in the coffee shop area.  Two of the photocopiers also serve as network printers. 

You may send documents to print to the library printers from any public workstation in the library.  Print jobs are sent to the “Print Release Station” next to the printers. 

To conserve paper, all library printers are configured to print double-sided copies.

Printers and photocopiers use “Mountie Money” payable with University ID cards ($0.12 per page).  You may add money to your Mount Allison ID card using the machine on the Main floor, just outside the coffee shop. 

For more information, please see Printing in the Library on the Services for Students page.

Printing from your laptop or mobile device: You can send items to print to library printers using your laptop or mobile device or any computer anywhere (your home computer, for example) by going to  Simply log in and follow the directions on the screen.

How do I book a group study room?

Group study rooms are available on a first come, first served basis, and cannot be booked.

Two group study rooms are located on the ground floor and one on the second floor. There is also a room on the main floor (next to the Reference Office) available for group study after 4:30 pm on weekdays and on weekends during the fall and winter terms.

For more information, please see the Facilities Overview page.

When is the library open?

During the school year, the Library opens at 8:10 a.m. on weekdays. Closing hours and weekend opening hours change throughout the year, so it's best to check the library hours page or the signs outside the library.

How do I renew my books?

You may renew your books in person at the Access Services Desk or by phone by calling 364-2568 (R.P. Bell Library) or 364-2561 (Music Library).

You may also renew books online.  Instructions for how to do this in Novanet will be available soon. 

You cannot renew items that are overdue, have been requested by someone else, or items that you have already renewed more than 3 times. You also cannot renew items if you have more than $20 in fines. You should always verify that the records for all the items you want renewed have been updated.

For more information, contact Access Services Staff at 364-2568 or, or the Music Library at 364-2561 or

Where do I return my books?

Return your books either in the book drop outside the entrance of the library or at the Access Services Desk. Don't just leave them on the counter at the Access Services Desk or they might not get checked in and you will get overdue fines.

Can I borrow movies from the library?

Yes, films on DVD and VHS can be borrowed from the library for three weeks. You can search for videos and DVDs in Novanet the same way you would search for a book.

All films on VHS and DVD are located in a browsing section on the ground floor.

Most computer workstations in the Library are equipped with DVD/CD players, and the Library Theatre on the third floor is equipped with a multizone DVD player.

You can also access movies and other video content (including feature films, documentaries, theatrical performances) from the library's collection of streaming video databases.  You can access these on the A-Z List of Databases (use the Database Type menu and select Streaming Audio & Video). 

For more viewing options in the library, see the A-V Equipment page.

The book I need for my paper is out - what can I do?

If you need a book that someone else has borrowed, you can go to the Access Services Desk and place a request on the book. You will be notified as soon as it is available. This usually works best if you begin your assignments early; it is unlikely that a book due next week will be back by this afternoon!


How do I connect to the University's wireless network?

Wireless network access is available in the Library to Mount Allison students, faculty and staff.

Please see the Computing Services Department How to Connect to Wireless page for more details.

I don't even know where to begin...

Don't worry, we are here to help you figure it all out.

The library offers workshops or one-on-one tutorials on how to find books and articles, how to get started with your assignments, and many other things. Some of your classes may bring in a librarian to help you with your research. And you can always ask anyone in the library for help. Visit the librarians at the Research Help Desk. No question is too big or too small!

If you aren't in the library, you can ask a question by phone by calling 364-2564; or ask your question by e-mail by sending a message to or  You will receive an answer to your e-mail the next time the Research Help Desk is staffed (usually the same day or following day).

During the fall and winter terms, you can also ask question using the library's live chat service (see top of home page).

Live Chat

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Book an appointment with a librarian

Librarians are available to meet with you by phone or online.   

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Book an appointment with a librarian

Librarians are available to meet with you by phone or online.