When only a book will do, first I check Cuesta library's online catalog to see if we own it. For example, if I were needing to find a copy of Smart Mobs : the Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold, I would go to the library homepage at http://library.cuesta.edu/, go to Webcat, and see if Cuesta owned it. If we didn't, I would next check the public library system at http://www.blackgold.org/. If they owned it, I would reserve a copy and have it sent to the Atascadero branch, closest to where I live. (You need to get a free library card in order to use the public library system.) If that still didn't work, I would borrow the book from another library by using Cuesta's interlibrary loan system. It's free (unless the other library charges to loan the book) and takes 7-10 working days usually. The form is at the bottom of the library homepage at http://library.cuesta.edu/illoan.htm. Nowadays, you can get practically any book you want for free.
Speaking of free: If you wanted to buy the book, you could shop locally at one of the bookstores, or go to Barnes and Noble in San Luis for a very large selection. If you wanted to get a deal on it, you could go to AddAll http://www.addall.com/ and shop for the lowest price. The hardback edition of Smart Mobs is now out of print, but used to retail for $26. Using AddAll I found the book for 10.25 including tax at Half.com. The paperback edition retails for $16 and is available for $8.20 including tax when I checked AddAll.
And if you only wanted to read a little section of the book, you could use the Search Inside the Book feature at Amazon.com to look at a part of it. Many (not all) books sold on Amazon allow you to search inside them and look at several pages. What I do is look at the table of contents, then type in words from the particular chapter title that interests me. It works great! (You could also use Google Book Search at http://books.google.com, which basically does the same thing as Amazon's Search Inside the Book.)
(in Money, Research help)
Tina Lau, North County Librarian