How are materials arranged in an academic library?

Libraries use classification systems to organize books on the shelves. A classification system uses call numbers, a series of letters and/or numbers, to tell you what the book is about and where you can find it. 

Most high schools and public libraries use the Dewey Decimal System, but Cornell University Library (CUL) and other academic and research libraries use the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) System. Don't worry! You don't have to memorize this system, but understanding its structure can help you find books faster. 

The important thing to remember is that books are arranged by subjects; that means that similar topics are grouped together on the shelves. This arrangement leads to "serendipitous browsing:" if you find a good book in the library catalog, and then you locate it in the stacks, you might notice an even better book nearby! 

How to read call numbers in the Library of Congress classification system

P = Language & Literature
PS = American Literature
3576 = Time period of author's writings (1961-2000)
.A33 O95 = Author code (Note the decimal point before the letter. These numbers are read as decimals!)
2005 = Year published





Interactive Stacks Maps

Use the Olin & Uris interactive stacks maps to locate your book, or use the posted maps available by the elevators and on each floor.

Find the floor that includes the PS call numbers

Olin Library stacks floors and call number ranges

Olin Library 7th floor map



books on shelf