Skip to main content

Locating Books by Call Number: Home

Locating Books by Library of Congress Call Number

To locate a book in the Alkek Library, make note of the:

  • Location, Floor
  • Call Number (the book's address on the shelf)
  • Status (whether the book is Available or if someone else has it checked out)


Reading a call number

Reading a call number

Books are arranged on the shelves by their Library of Congress call numbers.  You can think of this number as an address for the book. 

Break it down and read it one line at a time as follows:

DA Line 1
 36  Line 2
 .A55 Line 3

1.  First, look at Line 1:

Call numbers are arranged first in alphabetical order.
Example: All books with call numbers that start with DA will be between D and DB.

2.  Next, look at Line 2:

Within the DA call numbers, books are arranged in number order.
Example: DA 36 will be between DA 35 and DA 37.

3.  Then look at Line 3:
             Line 3 of the call number has a letter and a number. The letters are in alphabetical order.
             Read the numbers as DECIMAL numbers, not whole numbers, so .A55 is read as A.55.
             Example: DA 36.A55 is between DA 36.A5 and DA 36.A6

What is a call number?

What's a Call number?

Call numbers are a code to identify each unique book by its subject matter. Because books are arranged by the call number, it also acts as a shelf address. You will find the call number attached to or written on the spine of each book.

The Alkek Library uses Library of Congress call numbers that uses letters and numbers to arrange books by subject. Books on similar subjects are assigned similar letters, based on the Library of Congress call number system.

A: General Works M: Music and Books on Music
B: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion. N: Fine Arts
C: Auxiliary Sciences of History P: Language and Literature
D: History: General & Old World Q: Science
E: History: America R: Medicine
F: History: America S: Agriculture
G: Geography. Anthropology. Recreation      T: Technology
H: Social Sciences U: Military Science
J: Political Science V: Naval Science
K: Law Z: History of Books. Library Science. Bibliography.
L: Education


Request a TexShare card through this request form or sign up at the Circulation/Reserve Desk on the main floor.

  • Texshare cards allow you borrowing privileges at many local libraries, including the following participating libraries.
  • All current Texas State students and employees are eligible.
  • Cards are valid for 1 long semester.
  • Materials must be returned to the same library from which they were borrowed.
  • You are responsible for any charges for lost or damaged materials. 
  • Students that do not return items will have "holds" placed on their records. This will prevent you from registering for classes, obtaining transcripts or grades, etc.
  • For questions about TexShare contact the Circulation/Reserve Desk at 512.245.3681 or via email.

Different book locations

Different Locations refer to different collections within the library. 

  • General Collection
  • Oversize Material
  • Reference Collection
  • Reference Desk
  • Business Reference Collection
  • Browsing/Leisure Reading
  • New Books
  • Juvenile Collection
  • Reserve

Consult a call number map to find them.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a free lending service available to current Texas State students and employees. ILL borrows items from other libraries that Alkek Library does not own such as journal articles, books, DVDs, CDs—anything you might need for your research.

Use the online Interlibrary Loan request system ILLiad to order your ILL items. Enter as much information as you know about the item you need, and the ILL staff will try to track it down.

Depending on the type of item you're requesting, turnaround times vary—to be safe, plan to wait a few business days for an article and at least a week for a book.

If you need help with making an ILL request or have questions about the process, call the ILL office at 512.245.4893.