Finding Books on the Shelves

This page describes how to locate books in the SUNY Adirondack Library.

Finding Books on the Shelves

When you find a listing for a book that suits your needs, write down or take a photo of the book’s entire call number (the series of letters and numbers, like this: QL681 .S497 2014). Go to that area of the book stacks. The librarian at the reference desk is happy to help you. 

What kinds of print books are there?

The SUNY Adirondack Library has circulating books, reference books, books on course reserve, as well as historical books from The Hill Collection.

Circulating books may be borrowed with a student ID card or community borrower card. These are books to take home and read more thoroughly.

Reference books are usually consulted for fast facts and summaries: encyclopedias, atlases, dictionaries, statistics. They are for library use only and may not be borrowed. The call numbers begin with “Ref.” and the books have a bright yellow label.

Books on Course Reserve include textbooks and other materials that faculty put on reserve for their students. These items are located upstairs, near the Library's Reference Desk, and are meant for in-house library use only. 

Hill Collection books (local history books) are located downstairs, in a room beyond the Center for Reading and Writing. Please see a Librarian for assistance.

Library of Congress Call Numbers

Most college libraries use the Library of Congress call numbers to arrange books by subject. It uses letters and then numbers to represent the subjects of books. Just use the code to go alphabetically and then numerically to find a book on the shelves. 

The other system used in American libraries is the Dewey Decimal system. It uses a simple number code to represent subjects. It is often used in smaller libraries, such as high school and public libraries. Both systems were created more than 100 years ago and serve a similar purpose to organize books by a subject code. 

Here are SUNY Adirondack Library's printable two-page handout about the Library of Congress call numbers, and video about how the system works. 

How do I find a book using call numbers?

  • Call numbers are located on the spines of the books. 
  • Books are arranged in call number order on the upper level of the library.
  • Look for the signs on each shelving row. 
  • Read the call number line by line, going alphabetically then numerically. 
    • Example: To find a book with the call number HB 171.5 .H79 2010,  first find the H section, then the HA's, then the HB's. Then find the HB 171 area. (Note: numbers following a decimal point should be read as decimals.)
    • See this video for details:

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