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A Guide to Books

Find Books in the Library

In order to find a book in the library you will need to look at its Catalogue Record. The book's Catalogue Record will provide you with three important pieces of information:

  1. Location 
  2. Call Number
  3. Status 

Knowing the location, call number and status of a book will tell you which of our 4 libraries holds the book, where the book is in the library  and whether it is available or has been borrowed by someone else.

1. Go to the Library which has your book

McMaster has four libraries on campus, Mills, Thode, Innis and Health Sciences. The Catalogue Record will tell you which of these libraries houses your book.

2. Find the area within the library where your book is

Each book in our collection has been assigned a Call Number that operates as the book's address. The Call Number will tell you where in the library you can find the book.

These book locator slips for Mills and Thode will help direct you to your book:

Note: McMaster libraries have

  • Stacks (books can be borrowed)
  • Reference (books that can only be viewed inside the library)
  • Reserves (course books that can be borrowed for a limited amount of time)

Take a moment to look at the nearby books on the shelf, they are on the same or similar topic!

Read a Call Number

The Call Number will tell you where to find a book in the library down to the shelf it is on.

A Call Number is a combination of letters and numbers that  may look something like this:  



1. The first line is read alphabetically and begins with one or two letters. Single letters come before double letters.

    i.e. N, NA, NB, NC, ND, etc.

2. The second line is read numerically as a whole number. Whole numbers are arranged from smallest to largest.

    i.e. 10, 10.7, 100,7 , 170, 1070, etc.

3. The third line is read alphabetically and as a decimal

    i.e. .B68, C.65, C.67, D.6, etc.

4. The last line is the date of publication. This is important when dealing with multiple editions of the same book.

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