How to Find Books in a Library in 5 Steps? {Must Check}

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Although readers love visiting libraries, searching for books is sometimes difficult among the massive collection of literary works available there.

People become familiar with time, but initially, it is overwhelming. I also faced this issue, but my frequent visits helped me to understand the process.

Hi! I am Priyanka from Hooked to Books, and today, I will help you to comprehend how to find books in a library.

It’s not that hard, and once you grasp the steps, you can easily find the books you are looking for.

So, without further delay, let’s start with the article on how to find books in a library in 5 steps.

Library Classification Systems

Library Classification Systems

Book classification is the process of arranging books and other literary materials on shelves as well as entries in a catalog according to their categories in proper order by assigning them call numbers using library classification systems.

A call number is a unique number given to a particular library item. This call number is needed to find a book in a library and is also printed on the cover or spine of each book.

Library Classification systems are used to organize the books in the library so they are easily accessible to the members. There are two methods:

Dewey Decimal System

Melvil Dewey first published this system in 1876. In this system, library books are divided into ten different classes. They can be further classified into subclasses.


The ten classes are:

  • 000–099 Computer science, information, and general works
  • 100–199 Philosophy and psychology
  • 200–299 Religion
  • 300–399 Social sciences
  • 400–499 Language
  • 500–599 Pure Science
  • 600–699 Technology
  • 700–799 Arts and recreation
  • 800–899 Literature
  • 900–999 History and Geography

Further classification into subclasses:

  • 500 Natural sciences and mathematics
  • 510 Mathematics
  • 516 Geometry
  • 516.3 Analytic geometries
  • 516.37 Metric differential geometries
  • 516.375 Finsler geometry

Library of Congress Classification System

Library of Congress Classification System

This system was created by James C.M. Hanson in 1900. In this, books are divided into 21 classes using letters from A to Z.

Then, they can also be further segregated into subclasses. These subclasses can also be divided by using numbers.


The 21 classes:

  • A – General Works
  • B – Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
  • C – Auxiliary Sciences of History
  • D – World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
  • E – History of the Americas
  • F – History of the Americas
  • G – Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
  • H – Social Sciences
  • J – Political Science
  • K – Law
  • L – Education
  • M – Music and Books on Music
  • N – Fine Arts
  • P – Language and Literature
  • Q – Science
  • R – Medicine
  • S – Agriculture
  • T – Technology
  • U – Military Science
  • V – Naval Science
  • Z – Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources (General)

Further classification into subclasses:

  • P – Language and Literature
  • PK – Indo-Iranian languages and literatures
  • PK1421-1429.5 – Apabhramsa

5 Steps to Find Books in a Library

5 Steps To Find Books In a Library

If you are in a library and wondering how to find a book in a library, you’re in the right place. Following the steps mentioned will help you find the book you are looking for among the plethora of books available in the space.

Step 1: Search for the Catalog

Lately, libraries are using electronic catalogs, so find a computer system and jump to the library’s homepage. Go to the search bar and type what you are looking for, such as books, magazines, articles, editorials, etc.

Step 2: Search by Title, Author, or Subject

Search by Title, Author, or Subject

If you know the title of the book, then type it directly; however, ensure not to use ‘A’ or ‘The’ at the beginning of the title while typing.

If you are not familiar with the title of the book, then use the author’s name. Authors are listed by their last names, so either type the whole name or only the last name, and all works under the specified writer available in the library will be listed.

All the works by the author, such as magazines, books, and articles, will be listed. You can filter the list to narrow the search results.

Sometimes, we do not have any specific book or author in mind; if that’s the case, try searching by subject using keywords, for example, European immigration.

Step 3: Gather the Essential Details

Once you have found the required book on the list, click on it. You will be taken to the screen where specific information about the book is stated. Note down the location, call number, and status on a piece of paper.

The location tells if the book is allowed to be checked out of the library or not. The call number is a unique number given to the book to simplify the search, and the status tells you if the book is available, unavailable, or missing.

Step 4: Use the Call Number

Use the Call Number

If the book is available, check the first two numbers of the call number and locate them on the guide. There are call number guides available at the main desk or around computer systems. The guide helps to know the wing and floor the book is located in.

Maps are also available at the library to navigate the floors and sections.

Step 5: Find the Book

Once you’ve reached the floor, start looking at the bookshelf labels. The labels are organized alphabetically and comprise a range of letters and numbers. Check the labels and your call number, and once it falls within the range of a particular label, start with that shelf.

The call numbers are written on the spine or cover of the book. Use your system-generated call number and match it with the call numbers written on the books; the same one will be the book you’re looking for.

If you cannot find the book, ask for help from a staff member.


Finding books in a library is not challenging once you understand the process. However, as a beginner, it gets a bit confusing. Happens with almost every reader.

I hope this article on how to find books in a library in 5 steps will help you to navigate through the bookshelves to locate the book you want.

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