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ENGL 101/111 Research Guide

How does the Ort Library Organize Items?

The Ort Library uses Library of Congress (LC) call numbers for most of its collection. This system organizes the items by subject.  This can be helpful, because once you locate a specific book in the library, you may browse the shelves in that area and find additional helpful sources.  You can learn more about the Library of Congress (LC) Classification system at the link below.

What is a Classification System?

Libraries use classification systems to organize the books on the shelves. A classification system uses letters and/or numbers (Call Numbers) to arrange the books so that books on the same topic are together. This arrangement can result in serendipitous browsing, where you find one book in the catalog, go to the shelf, and, an even better book is sitting right next to it.

In high school and public libraries, thr Dewey Decimal classification system is typically used. In the Ort Library and most university libraries, the Library of Congress classification system is used.

How to find a book in the library.

You can use the library's OneSearch tool to locate a book.  Once you have found a book that is located at the Ort Library, you can take the following steps from this example to locate it:

  1. You've just used OneSearch to learn about the book called Utopia is Creepy: And Other Provocations (Links to an external site.) by Nicholas Carr.  If you scroll down to the availability information, you will see thisScreenshot of location information from OneSearch  
  2. You can see that the books is available at Frostburg.  There is no due date, and it says it is available and on-shelf. So this book should be on the shelf when you look for it.
  3. Note that the book is in the Stacks, so you know that it is on the 4th or 5th floor. 
  4. Make note of the call number (T14.5 .C38 2017). This is the "address" of the book on the shelves, and is what you will use to find the book.
  5. The call numbers that start with A-N are on 4th floor, and P-Z are on 5th floor. So, you will go to the 5th floor. (There are posters in the library which will help you with this in the future!)
    • Close up of poster showing the location of stacks items. 
  6. Once you are on the 5th floor, begin looking at the signs at the end of each row until you find the row that includes your call number.
    • Image of stacks end cap showing what call numbers are included in the row. 
  7. Browse the books in the row, starting with the first part of the call number (T), and then the number that follows (14.5) and continue until you've found your book!
    • Image of the book being sought on the shelf with others 

Usually, the call number will be found on the spine of the book (at the bottom) but with thinner books, it can also be found on the front cover of the book.

How do I check out a book?

To check out a book found in the Stacks (4th or 5th floors), you need to go to the Library Services Main Desk.

Location: 3rd Floor of the Ort Library, to the right of the Main Entrance

Phone: 301-687-4395


Undergraduates can check out books for 28 days or even longer!  You can renew a book if it hasn't been requested by someone else.

For more information on due dates, fines, or InterLibrary Loan see: Ort Library Borrowing and Circulation Policies

How to Read an LC Call Number

This video is from Ryerson University Library and Archive and explains how to read a call number.