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Medieval & Renaissance 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 Medieval & Renaissance Studies intended for undergraduate use. Use the call numbers located lower on this page to browse books in these areas.

Butler also contains a specialized reading room, with non-circulating books, one on Ancient & Medieval Studies (room 603).

Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary may also have helpful works pertaining to Medieval & Renaissance Studies 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.

Call numbers

Since Medieval & Renaissance Studies is an interdisciplinary field, 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

  • Medieval
    • P901 - P1091: Extinct or Medieval Languages
    • PA8001 - PA8595: Medieval and modern Latin Literature
    • PN661 - PN694: Medieval Literary History
    • PN2152 - PN2160: Medieval Theatre
    • PQ151 - PQ221: Medieval French Literature, History and Criticism
    • PQ1300 - PQ1595: Old French Literature, Collections and Individual Authors to 1525
    • PQ4064 - PQ4075: Italian Literature, History and Criticism, Early works to 1500
    • PQ5265 - PQ4556: Italian Literature, individual authors to 1400
    • PQ6058 - PQ6060: Medieval Spanish Literature, History & Criticism
    • PQ6271 - PQ6498: Spanish Literature, Individual authors and works to 1700
    • PR251 - PR269: Medieval Middle English Literary History & Criticism
    • PR1803 - PR2165: Anglo-Normal Period. Early English. Middle English
    • PT175 - PT230: Medieval German Literature History
    • PT1501 - 1695: Medieval German Literature, Collections
    • PT5555 - PT5595: Medieval German Literature, individual authors
  • Renaissance
    • PN715 - PN749: Renaissance (1500-1700) Literary History
    • PN2171 - PN2179: Renaissance Theatre
    • PQ1600 - PQ1935: Renaissance French Literature
    • PQ4561 - PQ4664: Renaissance Italian Literature
    • PQ6271 - PQ6498: Spanish Literature, Individual authors and works to 1700
    • PR421 - PR439: English Literature, History & Criticism, Elizabethan era (1550-1640)
    • PR2199 - PR3195: English renaissance (1500-1640)


  • Medieval
    • D101- D203: History (General), Medieval History
    • DA129 - DA260: History of Great Britain, Early and medieval to 1485
    • DA777 - DA790: History, Scotland. Early and medieval to 1603
    • DA930 - DA937.5: History, Ireland. Early and medieval to 1603
    • DC60 - DC109: History of France, Early and medieval to 1515
    • DD125 - DD174.6: History of Germany, Early and medieval to 1519
    • DF501 - DF649: History of Greece, Medieval Greece, Byzantine Empire, 323-1453
    • DG500 - DG537.8: Medieval and modern Italy, 476-1492
    • DJ151 - DJ152: History of Netherlands (Holland), Early and medieval to 1555
    • DL160 - DL183.9: History of Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Early and medieval to 1523
    • DP558 - DP618: History of Portugal, Early and medieval to 1580
  • Renaissance
    • DA310 - DA360: History of Great Britain. Tudors, Elizabethan Age.
    • DG530 - DG537.8: History of Italy. Renaissance

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 Medieval & Renaissance Art History.

  • N5300 - N5975: Medieval art
  • N6370 - N6915: Renaissance Art


Religion & Philosophy

  • Medieval
    • B720 - B765: General works, Medieval philosophy
    • BR160 - BR275: Christianity, Medieval
  • Renaissance
    • B770 - B785: General works, Renaissance philosophy
    • BR280: Christianity, Renaissance & Reformation

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)