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How to Locate a Book

Library of Congress Call Numbers

Like most academic universities, the American University Library follows the Library of Congress (LoC) classification system. LoC classification organizes books by broad subject categories such as World History, Science, and Geography and then into smaller subclasses within those categories. The first letter in the LoC call number represents the broad subject, e.g., D for World History. The second letter denotes a smaller subclass, for example DA is the subclass for the History of Great Britain. 

The numbers following the subclass should be treated as a whole number when trying to locate a book. In this example: DA405 .G87 2007 would be shelved before DA 566.9 .B2 M29 1985 because 405 numerically comes before 566.9.

Numbers after the decimal point are treated as decimal numbers smaller than 1.0. In this example: DA405 .B44 wold be shelved before DA405 .B9 because 0.44 numerically comes before 0.90.

Library of Congress Classification Online

Call Numbers by Floor

Lower Level
D - JK
Second Floor
Third Floor
N - NX and TR
Lower Level

In addition to the main stacks, the library also has several smaller collections. 

The Visual Arts Collection, shelved on the Lower Level, contains the library's visual art, design, and photography books. Also shelved on the Lower Level is the Folio Collection, consisting of oversized books. The Graphic Novel Collection, Travel Book Collection and Popular Reading Collection are all shelved on the ground floor of the library.

Current periodicals, microform/fiche, Reserves, and Media Services are located on the Lower Level.

Library Floor Map

Explanation of item status in the catalog

Catalog records display an item's status at the top of the record under "Availability". 

Available - the item is not checked out to a patron and is available in the library stacks for checkout.

Checked Out - a patron already has the item. The due date is also displayed.

Renewed - a patron has been granted an additional loan period on the item. The due date is also displayed.

Lost or Missing - the item cannot be found in the library stacks, or a patron has lost the item.  

Under availability, the catalog also displays the items location. The majority of items will display the location: "AU: LIB Stacks". 

If an item has been put on course reserves for the semester, this location will be amended to "AU: LIB Stacks. Temporarily Shelved at AU: LIB Reserves".

Other items will have a location related to the collection they belong to.

WRLC Storage  

Some items may show up in the catalog as being located at "WRLC Storage", with the availability status "available for delivery". The WRLC Shared Collections Facility houses over 1.8 million books owed by all WRLC universities. Any item housed in storage can be requested by American University students/staff/and faculty as a regular CLS request

Storage items which are owned by American University can also be requested by AU Alumni and Associate Borrowers. Guests (patrons not affiliated with American University or any of the consortium schools) can contact Interlibrary Loan ( to request AU owned storage items for on-site library use only.