Library Skills Tutorial
Retrieving Information -- Locating Books
In addition to writing down the book citation information, Sandy has also written down the call numbers for the books she wants to find in the library. Books are arranged on the library shelves in call number order.
Like many college and public libraries, the Athens State University library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification to organize books. The Dewey Decimal system organizes knowledge into ten broad categories, each designated by a number at the hundreds level. Within each category, the divisions become more and more specific. For example, Language and Literature fall in the 800s. English and Old English literature is in the general category of 820, and Shakespeare's works are classified under 822.33.
Many books can be written on the same subject, so an additional designation is needed to distinguish books on the same topic. This is usually done by using an alpha-numeric code called a Cutter number that relates to the author or, sometimes, the title. For example, Kinesics: The Power of Silent Command by Merlin Cundiff and Body Politics: Power, Sex, and Nonverbal Communication by Nancy M. Henley both have the Dewey number of 153.69. In order to tell them apart, the Cundiff book has the Cutter designation of C97k (C97 for the author's last name, Cundiff, and "k" for the first letter of the book title, "Kinesics"). The Henley book has the Cutter designation H51b (H51 for Henley, and "b" for "Body"). Sometimes the year of publication is also added.
Books are arranged on the shelves in order by call number, then by Cutter number. Therefore, the two books mentioned above would be found on the shelf with related books, like this:
The circulating books, or books that can be checked out from the Athens State library, are located on the second floor. Reference books and books that are placed on Reserve by instructors are located on the first floor. Reference and Reserve materials either cannot be checked out, or can be checked out for very limited time periods.