How to Find Books in the Library

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Once you have found the book in the library catalog there are two things you will need to do.
  1. Write down the Call Number
  2. Make note of the Location
library record

The location of the book/s will vary because of type, size and use. The majority of the books you will need are located in the General Collection. This is a map of the library with each of the different shelving locations.

The Library uses the Library of Congress (LC) Classification to organize its books. To be able to efficiently read Library of Congress (LC) call numbers it takes a little time. This tutorial was created to help unravel the mystery of LC call numbers.

How are LC call numbers organized?

The call numbers are arranged alphabetically A-Z . The call numbers begins with two or more letters corresponding to the 21 main LC call number classifications or classes. Within each of these larger classes are subclasses that are indicated by the second or third letter.

  • A General Works
  • B Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
  • C Auxiliary Sciences of History
  • D World History and History of Europe
  • E History of the Americas
  • F History of the Americas
  • G Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
  • H Social Sciences
  • J Political Science
  • K Law
  • L Education
  • M Music
  • N Fine Arts
  • P Language and Literature
  • Q Science
  • R Medicine
  • S Agriculture
  • T Technology
  • U Military Science
  • V Naval Science
  • Z Bibliography, Library Sciences, Information Resources
  • To see the subclasses located under each main class, see the Library of Congress Classification Outline, click on a class to view its subclasses.

    How to read a call number

    Each call number consists of several parts. The FIRST line, NK, defines the class and subclass. These letters specify a broad subject area. Class N for fine art, NK represents the subclass decorative arts..


    The SECOND line, 9712, is the classification number. It should be read as a whole number to determine its location on the shelf. In combination with the class and subclass, the classification number defines the subject matter more finely. In this example, NK 9712 represents woodwork (a subdivision of NK— decorative arts).

    The THIRD line, .C47, is called a "Cutter Number." This letter-number combination usually indicates author, but it may also represent other information such as further subject subdivision or geographic area. The Cutter number is always present in a call number and may sometimes be a "double Cutter" (NK 9712 .C47 E17 1952 has a double Cutter). The numeric component of the Cutter number is ALWAYS interpreted as a decimal number when determining shelf location. Therefore, the numeric component of C47 should be read as ".47" (and the call number NK 9712 .C47 E17 1952 should file BEFORE NK 9712 .C6 E17 ).

    The YEAR of publication, 1952, may also be present. Not all call numbers will include the year of publication, but most recent books will. These file in chronological order and often distinguish among varying editions of a text.

    library map