A Photo Guide to Finding Materials @ the Library


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A Photo Guide to Finding Materials @ the Library By Cassaundra Bash, Director of Library Services Gerald J. Ball Library, Ancilla College ©2013

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 Materials are all conveniently located in one half of the library.  In the foreground is the reference shelves. The VHS tapes and DVDs are behind them, and the rest of the books are just beyond them (they're on the tall, orange shelves).

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These are the non-fiction shelves in the library.   At the far end, you can see the fiction shelves along the back wall. 

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These are the magazine shelves.  Magazines are arranged alphabetically by title. The current issue sits with the cover out;  a few previous issues are stacked underneath. Older issues may be available; check with the library staff about back issues.

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Anatomy of a Call Number All books, CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes have labels on the spine with the call numbers—this tells you where to find the item. Call numbers have 3 parts: the Dewey number, the Cutter number, and the year.

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 Ancilla uses the Dewey Decimal System, created by Melvil Dewey. The Dewey Decimal System groups books about similar topics together, with a whole number representing a broad topic, and using decimal places for more specific topics. So the call numbers for our non-fiction books and our audio-visual materials all start with a number.  Let's use this book found in our online catalog, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, as an example. Note that the Dewey number is 632.

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 Dewey’s system breaks all topics into 10 broad categories—the 600s are applied sciences and technologies. Then he broke each of those into 10 more specific areas—the 630s are agriculture and related technologies. From there, he broke each one down further, like this for the 632 section: There can be many more numbers after the decimal point, so that you could have a number like this: 632.6542. The longer the number, the more specific the topic: 632—Plant injuries, diseases, pests 632.6—Animal pests 632.65—Arthropods—agricultural pests 632.6542—Mites—agricultural pests Items are shelved by Dewey number first, so when you start looking for a book, you’ll need to start there.

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Cutter numbers are next--they assign a number to an author according to their last name.  If there is no author, we use the first word of the title  (excluding "a", "an", and "the"). Like Dewey, this system was named after the man who came up with it, C. A. Cutter. The small letter at the end is usually based on the first letter of the title (again, exclude “a”, “an”, and “the”. So Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring’s Cutter number is C239s.

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The last part of the call number is the year of publication. We started adding this third part relatively recently, so not all call numbers will have the year included.

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 Ready to see this all in action? Let's keep using the book found in our online catalog, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, as an example. Remember that the Dewey number is 632.

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 Now we can look at the end of each of the nonfiction shelves to find the range of numbers on that particular shelf to see if your book should be there.   632 falls in between the number range of 620—738.09, so this is the shelf where we want to start searching.

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Once you find the range where your number fits, walk down the rows and study the book labels.  There may be lots of books that have the same Dewey number, so don't forget to use the Cutter number, too. See if you can find the call number on these book spines that matches our book's call number in the catalog.

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And the answer is…

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Clinical nursing books have their own section. If you have a title that is a nursing book, look in the section that has the books with yellow label protectors.

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See if you can find the book from the catalog on the shelf below. The answer is on the next slide.

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Audio-visual materials like DVDs and VHS tapes have Dewey and Cutter numbers, too.

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Fiction titles are arranged alphabetically by author's last name-- use the Cutter number to find your book!

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Now you should be able to find the items you need on the shelves. Remember, if you forget, you can always ask a librarian for help!

Summary: Discover Ancilla College's library resources and how to find what the library owns on its shelves.

Tags: ancilla college library orientation resources dewey decimal system call numbers