I am modifying this "latent" question that I asked about 2 years ago. For those who have access, you can view the original version. I'm leaving the basic topic, the same, though.

I'm comfortable learning in a Bet Midrash. I can locate most of the "basic" books that I need such as a Chumash, Gemarah and Ramba"m. But the Bet Midrash is filled with loads of other books, many of them commentaries - Shitah Mekubetzet, Rabbeinu Bechayeh, etc. I'm not sure what many of these books are for.

Occasionaly, I find a somewhat "obscure" book mentioned, such as in this M.Y. answer. This is a sample. But, in general, if I saw the title of a book mentioned, and wasn't sure what "category" the book was in, how would I be able to locate this in a Bet Midrash?

View this question from a novice's standpoint. Let's say someone comes into the Bet Midrash late at night and he's pretty much there, alone. He reads the Shulchan Aruch, let's say, and it talks about some other reference that he hasn't heard of. How would he know where to look if there's no directory or catalog?

Is there any book, video or online guide or even a yeshiva that does a basic "Guide to the Bet Midrash" or something like that? What about a Yeshiva or Bet Midrash that has a computer "info database" or an information desk, like most libraries have? If not, I wonder why there isn't. Something like this would be a huge benefit to both novices and experienced people as well. How else would someone become more efficient in his own learning?

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    The beginning of every Artscroll masechta gives an overview of the commentaries on that masechta. That might be one place to start.
    – wfb
    May 21 '15 at 20:32
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    Ok, in that case I would recommend something more like this amazon.com/Reference-Guide-Talmud-Rabbi-Steinsaltz/dp/…
    – wfb
    May 21 '15 at 21:03
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    I am not sure how such a guide would work. If one is a 'novice' one wouldnt be able to understand a sefer anyway. And if youre not you would know where to look. If you want to know about reading the torah you would look at a MB ( I am sure you could find it there) and from that see where the gemoro is quoted.
    – cham
    May 21 '15 at 21:55
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    This question doesn't seem answerable. There isn't an easy way to tell you where everything is. It's just not how it works.
    – Double AA
    May 21 '15 at 22:42
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    I would suggest not being too embarrassed to ask around. (לא הביישן למד) The way it works in many beis medrash/yeshiva systems is that when someone has a question, he asks the guy sitting next to him, and they might talk it out, or ask someone more knowledgable, etc. This is how people in yeshivos learn new things (and make friends in the process) May 22 '15 at 14:22

Generally speaking, books are grouped by type: Halacha, Chumash, Gemarah, etc etc. So once you find, for instance, a halacha book you recognize, odds are the books in that section are the halacha books. In your example, since the Shulchan Aruch is quoting it, it's probably a halacha book that would be found in that area.

(As far as information desks and databases, Y.U. in N.Y. has an information desk in their library and, I believe, a database (access to the database may be restricted). B.M.G in Lakewood N.J. has a library-like system as well in their sforim libraries, and a written catalog of all the books.)

  • Good to know that some people are creating a prototype. This should be a standard. I know that smaller places this is a bit difficult.
    – DanF
    Mar 10 '17 at 17:34
  • @DanF Even the places I mentioned only have this in their libraries, not in the beis medrash itself. So it's not exactly your ideal prototype.
    – Jay
    Mar 10 '17 at 17:41
  • @DanF most small libraries are small enough that you can "figure it out" within a few days. Mar 10 '17 at 18:42
  • Maybe you and I can become pioneers on a project like this?
    – DanF
    Mar 10 '17 at 19:12

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