How Do I Find a Book?

How do I find a book using a call number?

Call numbers are like a book addresses--they tell you the city, neighborhood, and house where a book is located.

A call number like PN6728.S26 G35 1991 is similar to 123 Main Street Anytown, USA 12345, except call numbers are organized backwards with the "house number" being the numbers after the decimal point. Once you think of a call number like an address, it’s easier to begin to dissect it for its location.

  • First determine which floor of the library your book is located.  Most of the collection will be on the 1st or 2nd floors.  This is the "zip code."
  • Next look at the first and second letters of the call number.  This will get you to the correct "city."  Everything is alphabetical so books are organized like P, PA, PB, PC, etc.
  • Next, you want to get on the correct street.  Look at the number right after the letters. In this case, 6278.
  • You'll want to find the flag with your call number in range. In the image to the right, you see numbers that run from PN 6121 to PQ1811. Would your letter and number combination fit in between there? Yes!
  • Once you've located the correct street, look for the numbers after the period. In this case, S26 G35 1991.
  • These numbers are considered the book's "house number." They are specific only to that book and almost always include the year the book was published.
Picture of a bookshelf flag indicating range of numbers PN 6121 to PQ 1811

If you have trouble locating a book, please visit the Public Service Desk located on the 3rd floor.

Steely Library phone number:  859.572.5457