If an item you are looking for is not on the shelf you may request a search. Current Columbia students, faculty and staff may use the Search For an Item Not on Shelf web form to request that a search be conducted for an item that was not located on the shelf. In order to use this service, a valid UNI and password are required. Please be aware that the item that you cannot find on the shelf, may be available through Borrow Direct. If you are not familiar with this service, please talk to a reference librarian.

If you are unable to use the web form, complete a Search Request Form and submit it to the staff at the circulation desk. If the item is checked out to another user you may request a recall or hold (see Recall/Hold for more information). If the item is not checked out to another user, we will initiate a search.  There are several types of searches, detailed below.

If the item is not found, current Columbia students, faculty and staff are encouraged to use the Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan services in order to obtain the item.

Quick Search

This is a process that is usually completed within one day. Accurately complete a search request form for the item to be searched; provide us with as much information as possible about the item, and also include your name, and contact information.

We will notify you of the search results when it is completed, but no later than 5 p.m. on the next business day. If found, the item will be placed on hold for you.

All items not found during the Quick Search will automatically be placed into a long search process. A Long Search may take up to six weeks to complete, as we conduct several searches for the item. If the item is not readily available, you may seek the assistance of a reference librarian in locating other copies within Columbia, or at another institution.

Claimed Returned Search

If you have received an overdue notice or bill for an item that was checked out to you that you believe to be returned, you may request this type of search. You may be responsible for charges associated with these items until they are found.


Request this service for items that are shelved in restricted areas of the Butler Library stacks. These items are usually retrieved within one hour of the request. Some of these items may not circulate.