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Classics & Ancient Studies

Research guide to support the study of Greek, Latin, and Ancient Studies

Where to find books

Both the Barnard Library in the Milstein Center for Teaching & Learning, and the Milstein Undergraduate Library in Butler contain collections on classics and ancient studies intended for undergraduate use. Use the call numbers located lower on this page to browse books in these areas.

Butler also contains two specialized reading rooms, with non-circulating books, one on Ancient & Medieval Studies (room 603), and one on Papyrology & Epigraphy (room 604).

Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary may also have helpful works pertaining to the study of classics where they intersect the study of Religion.

For art, architecture, and art history, the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia will be of use.


One of the many benefits of studying classics or Ancient Studies is the plethora of public domain texts freely available. This means there are tons of editions of electronic texts of ancient writers. However, the editions of these works may be older (you'll see many translations from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, which are antiquated in their own right), so watch out for that.

Databases with electronic texts

These resources will require a Barnard/Columbia UNI if used off-campus.

Web Resources

Free and open resources for all

Call numbers

Since Classics & Ancient Studies are interdisciplinary fields, there's no one call number range that encompasses the area. Helpful call numbers in the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system may include:

Language & Literature

  • Ancient Studies
    • PA5000 - PA5660: Byzantine and modern Greek literature
    • PJ1001 - PJ1989: Egyptology
    • PJ3101 - PJ3971: Assyriology. Akkadian
    • PJ4001 - PJ4091: Sumerian
  • Greek
    • PA201 - PA899: Greek philology and language
    • PA1000 - PA1179: Medieval and modern Greek language
    • PA3050 - PA4505: Greek Literature
  • Latin
    • PA2001 - PA2915: Latin philology and language
    • PA6000 - PA6971: Roman literature
    • PA8001 - PA8595: Medieval and modern Latin Literature​


  • Ancient Studies
    • DS67 - DS79.9: History of Iraq (Assyria, Babylonia, Mesopotamia)
    • DS80 - DS90: History of Lebanon (Phenicia)
  • Greek
    • DF10 - DF289: History of Ancient Greece
  • Roman
    • DE: History of the Greco-Roman world
    • DG11 - DG265: History of Ancient Italy. Rome to 476.

Art History

Art History in the Library of Congress (LCC) classification system is split up first by medium (e.g., architecture, painting, sculpture, print media, etc) rather than by geographic location or time period. Columbia's Avery Art Library also uses more than one type of classification system, so searching in CLIO is the best way to discover books on Classical or Ancient Near Eastern Art History.

  • N5320-5899 Fine Arts in Antiquity
  • NA210–340 Ancient Architecture
  • NA69–169 Ancient Sculpture
  • ND60–135 Ancient Painting
  • NK610–685 Ancient Decorative Arts
  • NK1180–1250 Ancient Decoration and Ornament
  • NK4645–4654 Greek & Roman Vases


Other Call Numbers

  • B108–708 Ancient Philosophy
  • BL700–820 Classical Religion and Mythology
  • BR160–240 Early History of Christianity
  • CE21–46 Ancient Chronography
  • CE42–46 Greek & Roman Calendars
  • CJ201–1400 Ancient Numismatics
  • CN1–1100 Ancient Epigraphy
  • G82–88 Ancient Geography
  • G1033 Atlases of the Ancient World
  • GT530–580 Ancient dress and costume
  • GV17–35, 573 Ancient Sports and Games
  • HC31–39 Ancient Economic History
  • HD132–137 Ancient Economic History (Land)
  • HD4844 Labor in the Ancient World
  • HF355–381 History of Ancient Trade and Commerce
  • HN9–10 Ancient Social History
  • HQ13 Ancient Sexuality
  • HQ505–12 The Family in Antiquity
  • HQ1127–1139 Women in the Ancient World
  • HT863 Ancient Slavery
  • JC51–93 Ancient Political Institutions & Theory
  • KJA Roman Law
  • ML162-169 Ancient Music
  • P901–1099 Extinct Asian and European Languages
  • R126–127 Ancient Medical Works
  • R135 History of Ancient Medicine
  • T16 Ancient Technology
  • U29–35 Warfare in Antiquity
  • Z105–115 Paleography, Z7016–7030 Bibliography of Classical Languages and Literature

Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

There are benefits to using both Borrow Direct and Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Which service you should use largely depends on your research needs and the item you are trying to obtain.  Most people use a mix of both services.

The following table outlines some specifics of Borrow Direct vs. ILL.

  Borrow Direct ILL
Articles/book chapter scans (.pdf)  
Music scores
Music CDs
Non-book loans (DVDs, microfilm, dissertations, maps, etc.)
Delivery in 3-5 business days  
16-week loan period  
Renewal option  
Subject to recall by lender
International loans and articles  
Loans from a library other than the Borrow Direct partners (including public, law, medical, special collections, etc.)  

Here are some sample scenarios that might help you decide which service to use.

I need to borrow a book that is checked out at Columbia.  It is for a class assignment due in two weeks.

When speed is the issue for a loan, try Borrow Direct first.  If the book is unavailable through Borrow Direct, try ILL.  Keep in mind that ILL loans generally arrive within two weeks, which may be too late for your assignment.  Adjust the "Not Wanted After Date" on the ILL form to reflect your actual deadline.

I need to borrow a multi-volume set or one volume from a multi-volume set.

Although both services can accommodate multiple-volume-set requests, Borrow Direct is the better choice for ordering several volumes at once.  Indicate in the "Notes" field which volumes you need.  Typically, partner libraries will send no more than 5 volumes at a time of larger sets.  Please contact Borrow Direct staff if you need assistance (

I tried to place a Borrow Direct request for a book that Columbia does not own.  Even though I find the book through a Borrow Direct catalog search, the system will not let me place a request. What are my options?

Place an ILL request for the item if it is unavailable in Borrow Direct.

I need to borrow a book for the semester.  I know that a Borrow Direct library owns it. Should I use Borrow Direct or ILL?

Use Borrow Direct because the standardized loan period is 16 weeks, no renewals.  ILL does offer a renewal option but both the loan period and ability to renew are at the lender's discretion.  All loans are subject to recall.

(The content of this page comes from Columbia's page on BorrowDirect vs ILL)