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ENG L506: Introduction to Methods of Criticism and Research

A library research guide for the English L506 course

Understanding LC Call Numbers

What exactly is a call number anyway?
A call number is the unique number given to each book in the library. Call numbers are like addresses, they tell you where a book will be located in the library.

Why should I know how to read one?
If you understand how to read a call number, it will be a lot easier for you to find books in the library.

What does a call number look like?
This library uses LC call numbers (LC stands for Library of Congress), which use a combination of letters and numbers. The same exact call number can be written 2 different ways:

A call number that you find in IUCAT (the online library catalog) will look like this:
CT105 .K55 1981

And that same call number will look like this on the spine of the book:
So, here's how you read a call number on the spine of a book:
CT        --Read it alphabetically (A, B, C, CT, D, E, F, G, H, HA, HQ, etc.)
105       --Read it numerically (1, 10, 100, 100.5, 105, 1005.10, etc.)
.K55     --Read alphabetically and then decimally (.A23, .A233, .A33, .B4555, .B50, etc.)
1981     --The final line is a date.
And here is how this book would be placed on the shelf:



So now that I know how to read a call number, how do I use it to find books in the library?

  1. When you find a book that looks interesting in IUCAT, make sure you write down the entire call number.
  2. Check the location code to find out in what library the book will be (IUCAT contains books from all IU libraries).
  3. Look at the first letter(s) of the call number. Use this to figure out what part of the library to go to. Once you are on the correct floor, look for labels at the end of each set of bookshelves. These will tell you what call numbers can be found on those shelves.
  4. Find the book on the shelf and take it to the Service & Information Desk (2nd Floor) to check it out.

Finding and using eBooks

eBooks can be found through IUCAT and in several databases. If you know the title, start in IUCAT. Look for a result with both the print book & online resources icon -- these indicate an eBook. You can also choose the "online only" option below the search box and use the "Book" filter on the left hand side to find eBooks. 

Note: eBooks are licensed by campus not by library, so be careful not to use the library filter in IUCAT.

Screen shot of IUCAT showing filters used in a search

Also note, when you are in the book's record in the catalog, be sure to choose the link that is for IUPUI:

If you know your book is an EBSCO or ebrary publication, search the eBooks from EBSCOhost database or the ebrary database (both listed under 'E' on our Databases A-Z list). Note: Many databases allow you to create an account and save titles to your profile or virtual bookshelf.

For more information on eBooks, see the How-To Guide (link below).

Library How-To Guide:

Popular eBook Databases