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. 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.

Once you've found a book in NKUIRE, the library's catalog, scroll down for holding information.

Screen shot of the holdings information for a book located on the first floor of Steely Library

The holding information gives you the call number and the location of the book. Steely has four floors of books and knowing which floor lets you know the "zip code" of the book.

Some call numbers include locations like Farris Reading Room or Government Documents, but always include the floor number.

Each call number starts with a letter which provides you with "city" information. It also lets you know the subject area. All call numbers indicate subject, division within subject, and the year when a book is published. And because all books are organized by subject, if you find a call number for a book you like, other books will be next to it that may be helpful.

Once you are on the correct floor, you will see bookshelves with flags on them indicating the range of the numbers.

  • First locate the first letter of your call number.
  • After you've located the first letter, look for the second letter. Everything is alphabetical so books are organized like P, PA, PB, PC, etc.
  • Once you are on the correct street, you want to look for the "street name"--or 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?
  • Once you've located the correct area, 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 will indicate usually the author's name and 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