The search facility works just like any search engine. You enter in words that you hope will find a match. Currently the words are matched against a book's title, series name or author. If there are any results, it'll list all the books that match and their authors. You can click on a book's title to get more information about the book or click on an author to get a list of all the books we have by that author.
There's also a checkbox next to each book entry. If you tick one of them and then hit "Go" it'll find any books that the system thinks are similar. How it decides if a book is similar to another is by you, the members of The Institute For Impure Science (IFIS) creating sets of similar books. You can select several books at once and it'll find any that match all of them.
If you haven't really got any idea what you're looking for you can browse the library by author, by title or by series. The list by title is VERY long, so don't be surprised if it takes a while to download it all.
As mentioned a short while earlier, clicking on a book's title will bring up more information about the book. This includes a description, book covers and reviews. It also has a "Reserve this book" link, which will do pretty much what you expect. Click it on and it'll register your interest in the book.
The librarians keep an eye on who has reserved what and will try and hand the book over to you at the earliest chance. More than likely this will happen on a Tuesday before our event or down the pub afterwards. If you're not around to collect the book, we'll email you to find out when you'll next be attending an IFIS event so we can hand the book over then.
Hopefully the reading part of this section doesn't need any explaining. Just open the book and starting at page 1, read the words. Out loud if you need to, but becareful of annoying others around you, if you do.
Returning the book isn't much more complicated than getting the book in the first place. Just show up to a society event and hand the book over to one of the committee or a librarian and they'll return the book back to it's cramped and dusty storage.
If after reading the book, you have a strong opinion on whether or not it was good or bad, then write a review. Again, this is done on the information page for the books you've read. You don't have to write a massive essay, just your thoughts will do.
You should also consider adding some tags to the book if you liked it. Tags are words or phrases that description features that a book has. By adding the same tag to a set of books, you are saying that those books are similar and have that feature. You might for example tag some books as being "funny" or having "strong female role models".
Tagging a book as being "science fiction" or "fantasy" is not a good idea though as they cover most of the collection. If you are going to tag it with a genre it's better to be as specific as possible, like for example using tags like "steampunk fantasy" or "hard science fiction".
By doing either of these things, you are helping yourself and others get better recommendations about what other books to read.