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How to Find Books on the Shelves: How to Find Books

Materials in Penrose are organized according to the Library of Congress classification system. Finding what you need can be confusing, but this guide should help you learn how to navigate the shelves.

What are Library of Congress Call Numbers?

Penrose Library organizes books using Library of Congress call numbers. Similar to the  Dewey Decimal classification, Library of Congress call numbers act as a book's address on the shelf. Call numbers are made up of a combination of letters and numbers that represent specific subjects. Library of Congress uses the letters of the alphabet to represent broad subject categories and subdivisions. For example, J represents Political Science and R represents Medicine.

When you find a book you're interested in the catalog, you'll see a location and call number listed. Using Plutopia : Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters by Kate Brown as an example, the catalog lists the call number as HD 9539 .P583 S62 2013.  Additionally it indicates the book is shelved on the 3rd Floor and is available for check out.

To understand the call number for this book, here's how to break it down:

H represents the broad subject of Social Sciences. Books are shelved first by this section of the call number, in alphabetical order. 

HD gathers books representing Economic History & Conditions.

9539 represents a further refinement of the subject.  In this case it stands for books published about Special Industries and is treated as a whole number.  

.P583 represents the Plutonium Industry.  This is a decimal number (not a whole number.)  For example, .P583 will come after .P4 and before .P6.

 S62 the final element, represents the title of the book.  This is typically a whole number.

2013 is the year the book was published.  Dates do not always appear as part of a call number.

On the Penrose Library shelves, Plutopia is surrounded by books with these call numbers:

HD9539 .N5 I5

HD 9539 .P583 S62 2013

HD 9539 .T6 T53

To help you find where a book is located, call number ranges appear on the end panel of each row of shelves.  HD 9539 .P583 S62 2013  will be in the range of shelving that is labeled HD8083.A17L32 1986 - HD9571.5.W66 2002.  Click the "Locate" button in the catalog record for a library map.

The catalog provides the ability to text message the call number to a personal cell phone.  Standard text-messaging fees may apply.

Locations of Library Materials

Allen Room - 2nd Floor

Archives/Special Collections - 1st Floor

Atlases - 1st and 2nd Floor

Audio books - (accessible online)

Documents - 1st and 2nd Floor

eBooks - (accessible online)

General Collection - 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Floor

Juvenile - 1st Floor

Microforms - in Archives/Special Collections - 1st floor

Northwest Collection - 1st Floor

Oversize/Folio - 1st Floor

Popular Literature - 2nd Floor

Reference - 2nd Floor

Reserves - Circulation desk

Serials - 1st Floor (some accessible online)

Video - 2nd Floor

We Can Help

Don't hesitate to ask for help if you find Library of Congress call numbers confusing.  Any member of the library staff or a librarian would be glad to assist you.

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