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You can always ask a staff member, but it's usually easy to find it yourself.
The online catalog record tells you the author, the title, and the publisher of the book. Then it tells you where to find it by using Location, Call #, and Status.
LOCATION EUR Fiction
EUR means the book is in Eureka Library. Fiction tells you the book is in the Fiction area. (Just request the book if it isn't at your location).
ARC = Arcata, BLK = Blue Lake, BKM = Bookmobile, EUR = Eureka, FER = Ferndale, FOR = Fortuna, GAR = Garberville, HOA = Hoopa, MCK = McKinleyville, RIO = Rio Dell, TRI = Trinidad, and WCK = Willow Creek.
Call # FICTION DUMAS
The 'Call Sign' or 'Call Number' is the book's address and tells you exactly where to find it.
Fiction is shelved in ABC order, just like words in a dictionary. To find this DUMAS book, first find call signs beginning with D. Then look for DU, and when you get to DUM, you will be close enough to touch the book. Because U is close to the end of the alphabet, this book is near the end of all the books in the D area.
STATUS CHECK SHELF
Before you go hunting for a book, look at the STATUS. If the status is Checked Out, or No Available Items, place a hold or talk to a staff member. But when it says Check Shelf, you can usually expect to find the book on the shelf where it belongs. (If the status is Ready to Shelve, the book was returned recently and you can check the shelf for it, but ask a staff member if you don't find it there.)
Books with Call Numbers
What if the book has a call number, like Robert Sapolsky's 'A Primate's Memoir' does? The call number is a subject number, so finding this book will lead you to others about primates too.
CALL # 599.865 SAPOLSKY
Books with a call number are in 123 order. The numbers start with zero and end with 900s. On the end of each shelf you will see a sign that gives you a number range, like 479 to 610. If the number you have is between those two numbers, you have found the right shelf.
First look for the 599 area. Then look at the first number after the period in the call sign - 599.1, 599.2, until you find 599.8. Now look for the second number after the period, to find 599.86, and then 599.865.
There might be more than one book that has the same subject number. If there are, they will be next to each other in ABC order according to the name at the end of the call number, so if you are writing it down, don't leave out the name.
Each part of the Call # tells you more about where the book can be found. And yes, there might be a code! But you can decode it.
j The letter before the numbers is a collection code that tells you in what area, or what special collection, the book is found. The ' j ' stands for 'juvenile', so this book is in the Children's Area.
398.2 is the subject number for folk tales and fairy tales. These Dewey Decimal System subject numbers help keep books on the same subject together. Books are in order by number on the shelves, from books with numbers starting with zero to those that start with 999.
LANG is the author's name. Since there are lots of fairytale books, the name or word after the number helps you find the book in ABC order once you have found the shelf with all those 398.2 books.
Most books are easy to find in Fiction, alphabetically by author name, or in Nonfiction by number. Others are in special areas with codes that you can see below.
If you take a book off the shelf but don't check it out, you can leave it on a table for library staff to put away. Staff will make sure the book is put exactly where it belongs so the next person can find it.
Collection Codes Used in the Humboldt County Public Library System
In Eureka Main Library, all of these collections have their own special area. In a smaller branch library, collections may be combined (for example, mysteries and science fiction may be shelved together with other fiction.)
ATLAS R = Atlas Case, Eureka Library Reference
AUTO R = Auto Repair Reference Collection in Eureka Library
AV ROOM = Audio-Visual Reference Books (shelved near DVDs)
BCD = Audio Books on CD, adult AV area
Board Books = Board Books for young children, with cardboard pages
CD = Music on CD, shelved by musical genre
CHINESE = Chinese & Japanese Language Collection in Eureka Library, or if children's material, Children's World Languages collection.
CLASSICS = Arcata Library Classics Collection
CONSUMER R = Consumer Reference Buying Guides, at Eureka Reference Desk
DESK R = Ask at a service desk to use this reference book
E = Children's Picture Books
E ABC = Alphabet or Counting Books, Children's Collection
E BEGINNING = Beginning Readers, Children's Collection
FICTION = Fiction Area
GOV. DOC R = Government Documents, Reference
HOLIDAY = Holiday books, shelved together by holiday, Children's Collection
HR = Humboldt Room Collection at Eureka Library
j = An item in the Children’s Area
J KIT = Children's read-along kits with book and tape or CD.
j R = Children’s Reference Books, shelved at the Children's desk in Eureka Library
j SP = Children’s Spanish Language Collection
JAPANESE = Japanese & Chinese Language Collection in Eureka Library, or if children's material, Children's World Languages collection.
jBCD = Children's audiobooks on CD
jBT = Children's audiobooks on cassette tape
jDVD = Children's movies on DVD
jV = Children's movies on video cassette
LANGUAGE BCD = Language learning kits with audio on CD
[Any LANGUAGE NAME, for example, Arabic] = Children's World Languages collection, by language name. See SPANISH, CHINESE, & JAPANESE for exceptions.
LITERACY = Adult-level readers, Literacy collection at Eureka Library
LT = Large Type Books, books in large print.
MCN = McNaughton books (Extra copies of popular books)
MYS = Mystery Novels
O&W = Older & Wiser Collection, Fortuna Branch
OVERSIZE = Oversize books, shelved together because of their large size
PB = Paperback
PERIODICAL ROOM = Eureka Library periodical back issues & reference materials, ask at 2nd Floor office.
PN = Parenting Corner in Eureka Library Children's Room
REF DESK = Ask at the Eureka Library Reference desk to use this book
SET HAR = A volume of the Harvard Classics, shelved by call number
SF = Science Fiction & Fantasy Collection
SPANISH = Spanish Language Collection
W = Western Novels
YA = Young Adult Collection
10 Main Dewey Decimal System Classes
000 Computer science, information & general works
100 Philosophy & psychology
300 Social sciences
700 Arts & recreation
900 History & geography
Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) invented this system and first published it in 1876.
In many libraries all over the world, books are organized by subject using the Dewey Decimal System. With this system, if you find a book about gardening or marriage, plumbing or birds, you can also explore others on the same topic that sit next to it on the shelf.
Dewey first ordered subjects into ten main classes. Within those classes, specific numbers are used for more exact topics. Librarians can build a number for even a brand-new subject by following this system, which is revised from time to time to reflect new understandings and new ideas.
In the Humboldt County Public Library System, a Dewey subject number label is placed on the spine of each nonfiction book, and books are shelved in order by number. When several books sit next to each other with the same subject number, they are put in alphabetical order by the name or word after the number on the label. At the end of each shelf, a sign tells you a number range for all the books that sit on that shelf.
See more details on each of the ten classes on Wikipedia.