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Bapst Library


Locating Library Material

Finding Library material

Book retrieval for patrons with accommodation needs: We provide physical assistance with retrieving books from the stacks. For assistance, please call the Bapst Library Information Desk (617) 552-3200 or email us at

It can take time to become comfortable navigating library collections. Here are some tips for locating physical materials.

Most books and media in Bapst are assigned a classification number or call number, based on the subject of the material, the author and year of publication. The call number is used to organize collections and you will need to use it to locate the material that you need. For a more detailed explanation, take a look at our guides that cover using the catalog and getting your items

To look up an item call number, check the library catalog.

Once you have determined the collection where your item is located, its availability, and the call number, you will need to visit the stacks. Call numbers are typically attached to the spine or the bottom left-hand corner of the front cover. See images.

Call number sticker on the book spine                                                                  call number at the bottom of the front cover

Call number at the bottom of the book spine


Call number in the lower-left corner the front cover

Locations and Call Numbers

The chart below explains the location of the physical collections housed at the Bapst Library.

Collection Location
General Collection - AM, NX, TR Floor 4 (Gargan Hall)
Book Displays (2) Floor 3 (Kresge Reading Room and Bapst Lobby)
Course Reserves Floor 3 (Bapst Information Desk)
Current Periodicals Floor 3 (Kresge Reading Room)
Graphic Novels Floor 3 (Kresge Reading Room)
Reference Floor 3 (Kresge Reading Room)
General Collection - N-NE, NK, and ALL Oversize   Floor 2 (The Art Stacks)

Call numbers serve as the code for finding physical items on the shelf. The chart below explains how to interpret a call number and locate the material that you need.

Example:  NC1764.85 .D63 2012  

Part What is it How do I use it
NC General Subject Read this line in alphabetical order, for example, AM, N, NA, NB, NC, ND, NK, TR
1764.85 Specific Topic Read this as a whole number
.D63 Author  Combination of letters and numbers. Read the letter alphabetically, read the number as a decimal number, for example, D63 comes before D7. Note, some call numbers are comprised for more than one combination of letter/numbers.
2012 Publication Year Read this chronologically, for example, 1965, 1983, 2008, 2012

If you would like to browse a particular subject area, see the Library of Congress Classification Guide along with the chart of collection locations listed above.

Still Need Help?

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