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Locating Library Material

Loan policies at the Boston College Libraries

Finding Library material

Book retrieval for people with accommodation needs: We provide physical assistance with retrieving books from the stacks. For assistance, please call the O'Neill Library Circulation Desk (617) 552-8038 or email us at LibraryAccess-ggroup@bc.edu

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

Most books and media in O'Neill 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, it's 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.

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Call number at bottom of spine of book            Call number in lower left corner of cover of book

Locations and Call Numbers

The chart below explains the location of the physical collections housed at the O'Neill Library.

Collection Location
General Collection - A-DZ | Stacks, Stacks No Loan, Oversize Floor 5
General Collection - E-PT | Stacks, Stacks No Loan, Oversize Floor 4 
General Collection - Q-ZA | Stacks, Stacks No Loan, Oversize Floor 3
Popular Reading and DVD's Floor 3 Lobby
7 Day Media Floor 3
Circulation Desk Media Ask at Floor 3 Circulation Desk
Course Reserves Floor 3
Current Periodicals Floor 3
Graphic Novels Floor 1
Microfilm/Microfiche Floor 1
New Books Floor 1
Reference Floor 3

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: BV4501.3 .V53 2008

Part What is it How do I use it
BV General Subject Read this line in alphabetical order, for example, BS, BT, BV, BX, C, CB, CC
4501.3 Specific Topic Read this as a whole number
.V53 Author  Combination of letters and numbers. Read the letter alphabetically, read the number as a decimal number, for example, V53 comes before V6. Note, some call numbers are comprised for more than one combination of letter/numbers.
2008 Publication Year Read this chronologically, for example, 1977, 1981, 2007, 2008

 

Still Need Help?

Don't worry, you have several options:

  1. To ensure that all Boston College faculty, staff, students, and visitors have access to the libraries' collections, resources and facilities, a variety of services are provided to assist users with disabilities. Anyone conducting research in the libraries may request staff assistance.
  2. Complete a Missing Item Form.
  3. Contact library staff:

Finally, if you are simply interested in browsing a particular subject area, cross-reference the Library of Congress Classification Guide along with the chart of collection locations listed above.