Q. How do I find a book in the library? How do I find a book by call number?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, patrons may not browse the shelves for physical items, but can instead request books to be held for you to pick up by using the OneSearch request link. More information can be found here

When you are searching for materials in OneSearch on the library homepage, books located within the library will display location information, call number, and availability.

The location will tell you the floor and collection within the library where your book can be found.  Find the shelf that contains your call numberlocate your book, and bring it to the Circulation Desk on the first floor for checkout.  If you can't find your book, just stop by the Research Help Desk for assistance!

More information about finding books at the library

The Henry Madden Library uses the Library of Congress Classification system to shelve most books and periodicals. The classification system is designed to group library materials of similar subject concentration together and is used by many universities and colleges. It is different from the Dewey Decimal classification system that is used by most public libraries. If you are interested in how the two classification systems compare, this Wikipedia article may be helpful. 

The Library of Congress call number system is an alpha-numeric system. To read the call number, simply note the first letter or letters of the call number. "LA" would be shelved before "LB", "LC" before "LD", etc.  Numbers follow the initial letter or letters. These numbers are read as whole numbers. A call number of "LA2" will be shelved before "LA4".

Here is an example of how to read call numbers line by line: 

(image courtest of the Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame)


Some call numbers will start with a small "f" which stands for folio. This are usually over- or undersized items are are located in a separate section of the Lower Level, just beyond and to the left of the offices you see when you descend the main staircase to the Lower Level. You can always ask at the Research Here desk on the first floor is you need assistance. 


  • Last Updated Aug 17, 2020
  • Views 12
  • Answered By Amanda Dinscore

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