Knowledge Base

Finding an Item in the Library


Once you have found an item in the catalog that you would like to view, you will need to note several pieces of information in the item's record to locate the material in the library.

An item's record looks like this:
Full Record

1. In which library or special collection the item is housed

There are multiple libraries and collections that may house the item you desire. In this example, Bizzell is listed as the item's home; however, there are other branch libraries or special collections that may appear. Here are a few of the most common units you may see:

  • Architecture Library
  • Chem-Math Library
  • Engineering Library
  • Fine Arts Library
  • Geology Library
  • Government Documents
  • History of Science Collections
  • Law Library
  • Physics-Astronomy Library
  • Western History Collection

You will need to note the library housing the item before you will be able to locate it on the shelf. Each branch and collection has its own hours of operation; more information about these units and their collections is available from their websites.

2. The location of the item within the given library or collection

Once you know in which library or collection the item is housed, you will want to look at the location of the item within that library or collection. In this example, the location given is "REF_COLL" indicating that the item is available in Bizzell's reference collection. Some of the common locations listed in the catalog include:

  • Archives Area (abbreviated ARCHIVE in catalog)
  • Atlas Area (abbreviated ATLAS in catalog)
  • Audio-Visual Area (abbreviated AV_AREA in catalog)
  • Current Periodicals (abbreviated CURR_PER in catalog)
  • Government Documents Stacks (abbreviated GOV_DC_STKS in catalog)
  • Microforms Area (abbreviated MICROFORM in catalog)
  • Internet
  • Reading Room (abbreviated READ_RM in catalog)
  • Reference Collection (abbreviated REF_COLL in catalog)
  • Stacks

3. The item's call number

Each item within the library has a unique call number. University Libraries primarily uses 3 types of classification schemes to organize print resources. These are:

  • Library of Congress classification (Example: E 185.61 .C6124 2000)

Library of Congress call numbers are composed of letters, numbers, and decimals. Items about the same subject will be grouped together in this system.

  • Dewey decimal (Example: 325.26 B57p)

Dewey decimal call numbers are also comprised of numbers, letters, and decimals but begin with numbers rather than letters. Items about the same subject will be grouped together in this system.

  • Superintendent of Documents classification (Example: Y 4.SE 2:106-2-11)

Superintendent of Documents call numbers are used for Government Documents and are comprised of letters, numbers, colons, commas, decimals, and slashes. The documents are arranged by the issuing unit, not by subject.

In addition to these common types of call numbers, you may also see call numbers that do not follow traditional classification schemes. Examples include: Microfiche Serial 123, Microfilm Serial 123, Unclass (used for newspapers), Video Cassette 123, and Internet. These call numbers work in the same way as the other call numbers in that each item has a unique call number, but often they denote items in a format other than the traditional print format.


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