ESL Resources

This guide has information about reading and writing resources at CCSF Libraries, and basic research materials! Contact your subject librarian or the reference librarians if you need more help. For an overview of how to research efficiently, see Steps of the Research Process.

Finding Materials in the Library

Search CityCat to find books, e-books, disks and more. There are many ways to search, such as Title, Author and Keyword.

Books in the library are organized by Call Number according to the Library of Congress classification system which groups items by subject, so you can often simply browse the shelves.  See the table below for examples of Call Numbers in the left column.

Many ESL materials are included in our READ collections, which combine Basic Skills reading materials with items written especially for ESL students. The right column of the table below links you to lists of what is in each READ collection.

English Language Study:  Call Numbers   READ Collections: Click to browse.

TOEFL Guides  (PE 1129.9)
  Chinatown/NB READ
English Grammar  (PE 1128.6)   Downtown READ
English Composition (PE 1408, PE 1128)   John Adams READ
English Vocabulary (PE 1128)   Mission READ
English Listening (PE 1129.3)   Rosenberg READ (Ocean)
English Pronunciation  (PE 1129.3)   Southeast READ

Reference Sources

Reference books are great for short overviews and background information. There are also reference resources in our database section.

  •  Longman Dictionary of American English (PE 2835 .L6 2008)
  • World Book Encyclopedia (AE5 .W55 2010--reference)
  • World Almanac and Book of Facts (AY67 .N5 W7 2009--reference)
  • Atlas of the World--National Geographic (G1021 .N38 2007--reference)
  • Roget's Thesaurus (PE1591 .R738 2007)
  • Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (PN 6081 .B27 1980)
  • Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of Literature (PS21 .B46 1991--reference)
  • Timetables of History (D11 .G78 2005--reference)


Use databases for specialized and the most up-to-date information, especially academic (scholarly) sources that are not available for free on the Web. See the Articles & Databases page for a full list of databases available.

Web Sites

Use Web sites for government information, statistics, and current events. It's very important to carefully evaluate Web sites for accuracy, currency, bias and credibility.