In this guide, you will learn about books in the UVM Libraries and how to find them.
What you will learn
After completing this guide, you will be able to:
Let's start by searching for a book in the Library collections: Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond.
(You can enlarge images in this tutorial by clicking on them.)
Let's make sure that you've found the right item. What is the book's subheading?
Now that we’ve found the book we need, let’s see if it is available to check out.
If it has a green disc and the message “Available”, it should be on the shelf and available for borrowing.
A book may alternatively have a grey, yellow or red disc, and a different message. We’ll give you more information about what to do in these situations later in the tutorial.
Note: This information looks different in the Classic Catalog, which is another way to search for books in the Library's collections.
The next step is finding our book’s physical location. First, let’s check which library it’s in. UVM has two libraries, the main Bailey/Howe Library and the Dana Medical Library.
Next to the book’s “Availability” status, we should see information about its library: “BH Bailey/Howe” or “DA Dana”.
Collapse is in which library?
Now, let’s determine which floor of the Bailey/Howe Library our book will be shelved on. Continue reading the location details to find this information.
Collapse is on which floor of the Bailey/Howe Library?
Note: Most books are on the 2nd and 3rd floors, but some are elsewhere:
Now we need to identify our book’s location on the shelves. We do this by finding its "call number".
A call number is a unique combination of letters and numbers that represent a book’s broad subject area, its main subject, and sometimes its main author and year of publication.
Most UVM books have call numbers based on the Library of Congress (LC) Classification system. Most academic libraries use LC Classification, while most high school and public libraries use the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system.
Call numbers are partly based on subject area, so they make it possible to group books on similar topics in the same section of the Library. Call numbers are also unique, so they provide a unique “address” or location on the shelf.
You should see the call number after the floor location. What is it?
Call numbers contain a lot of useful information. Let’s see how they can help us.
LC call numbers begin with a one- or two-letter code representing its “subclass” (the broad subject area) and a number representing its main subject. For Collapse, this is HN13.
Our book's subclass, or broad subject area, is represented by HN. Which subclass is HN?
The "13" in HN13 defines the book’s main subject. In LC classification, HN13 represents “Social History”.
Subject headings are standardized words or phrases assigned to a subject - similar to tagging. Searching with subject headings helps you avoid items that are not relevant and could help you find some sources that a keyword search might miss.
Note: Subject headings display differently in the Classic Catalog.
What is the primary subject heading for Collapse?
If you wanted to find more books on this subject, you could do this by clicking the subject heading link. This would find similar books, with fewer non-relevant results than a general keyword search.
The next line of the call number contains a letter-number combination that usually represents the author’s last name. This makes it possible to group an author’s books on a certain subject together on the shelf. (Sometimes it represents a topic or geographic location.)
Our book's call number represents the author as ".D5". What name does this represent?
Sometimes, the call number also has a year at the end. This is the date of publication.
When was Collapse published?
To find a book in the Bailey/Howe Library, record its floor and the complete call number. Write them on a piece of paper or text them to your phone.
To text the location to your phone:
With the call number in hand, it’s time to find your book!
Start by going to the correct floor. For Collapse, you would need to go to the 3rd floor.
You will find signs at the end of each row of books. These signs tell you the call number range in that row. For example:
Collapse would be in the row that includes HN13.
Which range would this call number fall between?
Note! The books in our collection are shelved in a zig-zag pattern.
Another note! "Quarto" books (books that are larger than usual) have separate sections on each floor. Look for signs or ask a librarian for help finding these.
Once you’ve found the correct range, locate your book on the shelf by looking at the call numbers on the books.
First, find your book’s LC subclass. On the books’ spines, the subclass letters are on the first line, and the numbers are on the second line:
Look for the letter-number combination on the next line. This is the letter and number(s) that often represents the author’s last name.
Publication dates will appear towards the bottom of the call number.
Let's practice. Which call number comes first? Need a hint?
Click here to return to the search results.
A green disc and the message Available means the book should be on the shelf.
A gray disc and the message Checked out means someone has borrowed this book.
In this situation, you have 3 options:
Note: The steps for Recalls and Holds are different in the Classic Catalog.
A red disk and the message Request from Annex means the book is shelved in the Library’s storage annex and you need to request its delivery to the Bailey/Howe Library. Click Request from Annex and follow the directions. Items are typically delivered within 24 hours.
If the book has a green disc and is listed as available, but you can't find it on the shelf:
1. Check the call number. Did you write it down correctly?
2. Check the shelf. Are you looking in the right location? Are you seeing call numbers in the same LC subclass; for example, do the initial letters in the call numbers on the shelf match those in the call number you are looking for?
3. If you have the right call number and you're looking in the right shelf location but the book is not there, ask at the Library Circulation Desk (main floor) for help.
Remember that call numbers - and shelf locations - are partly based on LC subclasses; this means that books are often grouped by subject. If you can find the call number for one book on your topic, you can go to the shelf and likely find several relevant books in the same area.
For example, you could find additional books on Social History by going to the Library location for “HN13” and looking along the shelf.
You now know a lot about finding books in the Bailey/Howe Library. You know how to:
Ask a librarian
UVM Librarians are available to assist you with your research. Ask a librarian for help!
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