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Library student assistants: Library 101

Library terms

Call number: An alphanumeric code that appears on a book or other item to indicate where it should be found on shelves. When you are searching the library portal and find a book that you want, you look at the call number and it tells you where to find the item on the shelf.

Reference: The section of the library that contains reference books. Reference books are things like dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. These books are to be used in the library. They can't be checked out.

Periodicals: Magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, Time, People, etc. 

Checking in periodicals: When an issue of a periodical comes in the mail, you must check it into Alma. More on this later but basically it means you add the date that the issue arrives in the library.

Reserves: A special section of the library that is usually behind the desk or in an office. Patrons cannot access this area. It contains items that students can use in the library only, for a specified amount of time, like 2 hours or one day. Instructors can put items for their class on reserve. That way the items can be used by everyone in the class.

Alma: The back end of our library portal. You will use ALMA to check out materials to patrons, and scan items that have been returned. You will use it to check books out/in, or to check in periodical issues. Alma is the back end (the staff end) of the ATC Library Portal.

O.W.L.: Stands for Our Wonderful Library. O.W.L. is an all-inclusive tool for searching most every resource your ATC  library provides access to or owns. If someone wants to know if we have any books in the library on some subject, you search O.W.L..

GALILEO: A Statewide portal where you can find ebooks, articles, efilms, newspapers. Most every resource provided by ATC. Important note: You can't find our print/physical resources in GALILEO. 

Patron: A person who uses the library. Can be a student, instructor, staff, or member of the community.

How our stuff is organized

Library materials are shelved by call number. The call number is typed on a sticker on the book's spine. You probably remember Dewey Decimal from your school days. Most colleges don't use Dewey; we use a system called Library of Congress. Check out the video below to learn more.



Libraries use classification systems to organize the books on the shelves. A classification system uses letters and numbers (call numbers) to arrange the books so that books on the same topic are together. Academic libraries use the Library of Congress Classification System (LC).

Familiarize yourself with these classes and it will help you to find books and shelve more quickly.

Read call numbers line by line.

  • Read the first line in alphabetical order
  • Read the second line as a whole number
  • Read the third line alphabetically first, then as a decimal, eg: .C65 = .65  .C724 = .724
  • Some call numbers have more than one letter-number line
  • The last line is the year the book was published. Read in chronological order.
  • Remember: NEVER GUESS. If you're not sure what a call number says, ask us.

Graphic of books shelved in LC call number order

Image taken from The Online Library Learning Center website, a project of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia


Athens Campus Library: 706.355.5020 | Elbert County: 706.213.2116  | Walton County: 706.552.0909 | Greene County: 706.453.0536
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