In the Library by Call Number

What’s a call number?

Most physical items you can access in the library have a call number, which is a combination of letters and numbers that provide details about the item, such as its year of publication, topics, and other standardized information. 

Knowing an item’s call number can help you find where it’s located in the library. 

We use the Library of Congress classification system, the Dewey Decimal system, and SuDocs. You don’t need to know which is which to find an item on our shelves, but you can learn how they’re different in our research guide.

Find an item in the library using its call number

Use Library Search to look for the item you want. When the item is available, it will show up in search results, along with locations where copies can be found.

When you select a location, such as “Shapiro Undergraduate,” you’ll be able to see the following details:

  • the number of copies available at that location
  • the floor of the building where the item is located 
  • the checkout status of each copy, from “on shelf” to “checked out”
  • the item’s call number 

Selecting the “Get This” link in the item record will suggest a number of ways in which you can access the item. If you’re able to get the item off the shelf directly, you’ll need to pay attention to the floor of the building and the call number

Once you have this information, you can view the floor in our floor plans by location to see which shelves include the alphabetical call number range — and thus the item — you’re looking for. You can also go to the floor directly and follow the call number signage along the shelves. 

If you need help finding an item, contact us at Ask a Librarian.

No call number or “Get this” link? Items that can’t be shelved physically, such as e-books or streaming versions of films, typically won’t have call numbers. Instead, you’ll find a link in search results to the database where you can access it. Other items, like those in special collections, will show a “Request this” link where you can set up an in-library viewing.

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