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FYS 1046 Eastern Encounters: Identity and Change in Modern East Asian History

Organizing Books. Library of Congress or Dewey?

Used with permission. © Helena Söderberg (

How do you organize a collection of stuff?  In this case, books?

There are many ways you can organize books, by color, by size, or by subject. Public libraries and high-school libraries often organize their books using the Dewey Decimal system.

The Library of Congress system is the standard system for most college and university libraries. Below are a couple links if you want to learn more about this system.

The Courtright Memorial Library uses both the Library of Congress system AND the Dewey decimal system. The library owns a lot of children's books, and children's books are traditionally organized by the Dewey decimal system. The library uses Library of Congress for most other material.

The most important thing to understand about the library's systems is that similar things are shelved together--if you find a great book on the shelf, check the books around it for more about the same topic.

Get your Textbooks

To see Course Reserves on the library website, click on Course Reserves on the main navigation bar at the top of the homepage. On the right, you can choose to either search for a course or an instructor. Type a course or instructor into the search bar and then click Search.If there are current course reserves for this class, you will see them along with their call numbers and loan period.

The location "Otterbein Reserves" indicates that these texts are held on reserve at the circulation desk. To access course reserves, simply request them at the circulation desk. These items are usually restricted to in-library use only.

Searching Power

Advanced Searching with Boolean operators

Using the power of "Boolean operators" in your search enriches the quality of the information you find. For example, adding "AND" allows you to narrow your search to find results with more than one search term in them. Using "OR" will broaden your search to find results with any of the search terms used. Adding "NOT" to a search removes an unwanted word from all of your results. Really advanced searches can incorporate more than one Boolean operator to make search results very specific and pertinent to your research.

community AND immigrant AND irish = The search engine will find results using ALL THREE terms 

community OR subgroup OR demographics = using OR with synonyms increases the variety in your results; search results will include ANY of the terms 

columbus NOT explorers = using NOT will exclude a term; this is often useful to avoid a commonly used term that is irrelevant to your research

(columbus NOT explorers) AND (women OR gender) = use parentheses to "control" mini-searches, then connect the mini-searches with AND to make a sophisticated advanced search

Wildcard Symbol: Using the asterisk (*) after part of a search term looks for several variations of the word. For example, autobiograph* will find autobiography, autobiographies, or autobiographical.  (Some databases use the ! exclamation point for the wildcard symbol. Check out the help section of any library resource for a list of acceptable symbols.)

Google books

Don't forget to first check the Otterbein catalog and OhioLINK to see if you can easily get this.

Google Book Search