Books are valuable sources of information. They provide a broad view of a topic, as well as historical information. They can be very useful in helping you focus your topic. However, in most cases, they may not be as useful for the most current research on your topic.
Once you have identified a book that you would like to look at, you need to locate it in one of our libraries.
Fortunately, the page for each book will tell you where it can be found. Let's go back to that first book in our results list.
There are THREE things you need to make note of when you go to search for a book in the shelves (sometimes called stacks — that's just a fancy library term for shelf!).
So we can easily see that this book is in Mortensen Library. "Shelves" means it is in the main collection of books.
(Other Shelving Locations that you might see are "Reference," "Oversized," "Archives," or "Reserves." there are others, too, but these are the most common.)
Next, you can look at the map on the page to see where in the library you need to start looking. There will be a small map on the book's page, like this:
When you click on it, you will get a larger, more readable version:
This tells you that this book is on the upper level of Mortensen, and it highlights the area of the shelves where it is located.
So now you can find the book, right? Hold on a minute. Not quite.
We've got to go back to that "call number" thing we mentioned a few minutes ago.
Books in the Mortensen and Allen libraries are arranged using Library of Congress (LC) call numbers. LC call numbers use a combination of letters and numbers to place a book on the shelf within its subject.
To find books on the shelf using LC call numbers, you must find the first letter(s) which indicate a broad subject. They are arranged alphabetically. So, on the shelf you could see books with call numbers in this order:
Following the letters, the first group of numbers further narrows the subject. It is filed in numerical order within the letter group:
Notice that, for the last two books, the first group of numbers is the same. To put these books in order, the third element of the call number must be used. Treat these letter-number combinations like decimals and put them in order accordingly. It may help to imagine an extra zero at the end of the number; in this situation, placing a zero after the 7 makes it clearer that ".66" comes before ".70".
So NOW that you know how to read the call number, you can go find the book on the shelf. Go ahead, try it! Be sure to ask a librarian for help if you have any questions.