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Searching in Catalogs

Browsing By Call Number Area

When you have located a book whose call number you retrieved from a CLIO search, don't leave the stacks just yet! Spend some time browsing around the book you have found---you may find other titles that are relevant to your research.


Most of the books in Barnard and Columbia's collections are organized by the Library of Congress Classification System. The call numbers for books begin with a letter or pair of letters, and these letters---along with the numbers that follow---correspond with the books' assigned subject headings. Getting familiar with the Library of Congress Classification System can be helpful as you browse the stacks.


Check out the Library of Congress Classification Outline for more information on the subject areas your call numbers correspond to. 

When It's Not Immediately Available: Borrow Direct, ILL, and WorldCat

Borrow Direct and ILL

If you are looking for a book that is not listed in CLIO, or if all copies of that book listed in CLIO are checked out, request the book though Borrow Direct. Books requested through Borrow Direct usually arrive within four working days. 

If an item is not listed or is not available through Borrow Direct, you can often borrow it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL), For a helpful table identifying differences between Borrow Direct and ILL, see this comparison chart from Columbia Libraries. More information about other ways to access texts and other items is available in Affordable Textbooks page of this guide.


WorldCat contains catalog records for over 2 billion items held by libraries around the world. It includes records for books, manuscripts, websites and internet resources, etc. Searching WorldCat is an excellent way of moving beyond the range of what Columbia has collected to the larger universe of what is actually out there. You can borrow many types of items listed in WorldCat through either Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan. You can click on the e-Link icon in the WorldCat record for an item to search for it in CLIO or Borrow Direct, or to connect to an Interlibrary Loan request form that will already be filled out with basic data for that item.