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BIOL 199 - Using Library Resources: Finding Books

The Library of Congress (LC) classification system

Most academic libraries worldwide use the Library of Congress' classification system rather than Dewey Decimal.  Like Dewey, LC assigns a book to its shelf location according to the book's subject area; however, LC uses letters rather than numbers to begin its call number locations.  Subject headings will give you the call numbers of books and you may either search for specific titles or browse the shelves in those call number areas to find books you need.

LC is a hierarchical system.  E.g. A book on physiology would be found in the QP area; a book on physiology in extreme environments would be found in the QP82s.

Some LC subject areas in biology:

  • QH
      QH301-705.5  -  General Biology
      QH359-425  -  Evolution
      QH426-470  -  Genetics
      QH540-549.5  -  Ecology
      QH573-671  -  Cytology
  • QK
      QK1-989  -  Botany
      QK640-673  -  Plant anatomy
      QK710-899  -  Plant physiology
      QK900-989  -  Plant ecology
  • QL
      QL1-991  -  Zoology
      QL750-795  -  Animal behavior
      QL799  -  Morphology
      QL801-950.9  -  Anatomy
      QL951-991  -  Embryology
  • QM
       QM1-695  -  Human anatomy
  • QP
      QP1-981  -  Physiology
      QP33  -  Comparative physiology
      QP351-495  -  Neurophysiology and neuropsychology
      QP501-801  -  Animal biochemistry
  • QR
      QR1-502  -  Microbiology
      QR75-99  -  Bacteria
      QR180-189.5  -  Immunology
      QR355-500  -  Virology

Finding the Books You Need

You can begin your search for books on your topic in the UR Library Catalog *.  Here are some quick tips for effective catalog searches:

  • Start with a keyword search and when you have found one or two relevant books, examine their subject headings to help guide further searching.
  • The keyword search is searching the titles, subject headings, and any contents notes in the catalog record -- not the full text of the book.
  • Most books by and about a topic are shelved together, so once you have a few call numbers, you can BROWSE.   For example, most books on genetics are in the QH call number area.  These books are shelved on Boatwright's B2 level.
  • All circulating books are shelved on the B1 and B2 levels of Boatwright.  Reference books are in the Research & Collaborative area of the 1st floor.

You can also use the library's discovery tool -- OneSearch * -- to find books on your topic.  OneSearch results can be limited to:

  • books only
  • books only owned at UR
  • e-books only

You may also look for books owned by Virginia Commonwealth University or other area academic libraries by searching those library catalogs. You may check out books from these libraries if you first obtain a form at Boatwright's Information Desk and take it with you to the other library.

WorldCat *** allows you to search library catalogs throughout the world.  You may request books from these libraries through Interlibrary Loan but allow 3-4 weeks to receive them.

Using Interlibrary Loan (ILL)




If UR does not own a book that you need for your research, use Interlibrary Loan to request it from another library.  Depending on how long it takes for the loaning library to fill the request, you should allow 2-3 weeks for your book to arrive.  You will be notified through email when the book arrives and you can then pick it up at the Information Desk at Boatwright's entrance.

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