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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?

The usual loan period for most items is 3 weeks and you can borrow an unlimited number of books at any one time.  Note that there are some limits on certain items (see Borrowing Information for Students for more details).  .

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.  Get more details here.  

Novanet also searches the collections of other Novanet libraries.  Novanet is a consortium of libraries that includes Mount Allison and all universities in Nova Scotia.  As a result, Mount Allison students, faculty and other patrons can 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

You can use Novanet to search for articles.  You can also search for article in library databases. 

Novanet searches all databases but Novanet search results may sometimes differ from search results in individual library database.  For example, certain individual databases offer search features and options not available in Novanet. 
In some cases, searching individual databases in addition to or instead of Novanet may be the best option.  
Library Databases
The A to Z List of Databases is a list of all of the databases and other digital resources the library licenses or makes available for your use.
Some databases are subject or discipline-specific (e.g. PsycInfo for Psychology) and others are multidisciplinary (e.g. JSTOR, a database that provides access to scholarly journals across many disciplines).  
The A-Z List of Databases permits you to sort the list by subject to help you find the databases most suitable for a topic or area of study.    
For more help discovering which databases are commonly used in your discipline, check our subject guides for recommendations from your subject librarian, or ask a librarian.  You can also find more information here: Which Search Tool Should I Use?

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?

Please remember to return or renew your library materials before they are due. While the library does not charge late fees on most books, it charges replacement costs if a book is overdue for a long period of time. You will receive overdue notices by e-mail reminding you to renew books.

Fines may still accrue for some special items, including course reserves, laptops, and recalled items (items the library needs back for course reserve or another patron, for example).

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.

Please see the Borrowing Information for Students page for information about replacement costs for lost or damaged books. 

Can I make photocopies in the library?

Yes.  The printers / scanners / photocopiers are located in the Flying Bean Cafe area on the Main floor.  There is also a printer/copier/scanner located just outside the Music Library doors.

Upload documents to StudentPrint or print directly from any library computer. Release print jobs by tapping your ID card on the printer you have chosen (colour or black-and-white).  Cost: $0.12 per page and $0.65 per colour page. Scanning is free.

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 and the Copyright Information page.

How do I book a group study room?

Study rooms are bookable through Book a Seat. Tables in common seating areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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.  To do so, log into your Novanet account and in the drop-down menu under your name click "my loans." You can renew all items in your account at once or select individual items to renew.  Please see How Do I Renew Books and Other Items for more details. 

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.

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.

All films on VHS and DVD are located in a browsing section on the ground floor.  For equipment and viewing options, please see the A-V Equipment page.

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).

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 Tech Help for Students 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!

Librarians provide reference and research assistance and are available to help you find the information and resources that you need. Please see the Research Help page for all of the different ways you can reach us.  No question is too big or too small!

During the academic year librarians usually offer workshops 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.

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Book an appointment with a librarian

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