How to find books in Africana - the 800s!

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Books of and on literature are classed in 800s call number range within the Dewey Decimal system, and the Africana library has many, many English and French fiction titles (the 823s and 843s, respectively). The Africana 800s are, for the most part, located in 5E. There is one call number range, however, that is in the Africana lower level area: 839.36-839.3686 - which is (some of our) literature in Afrikaans. This entry will focus on finding regular size books in the 800s in the Africana stacks in 5E.

The method for finding books classed in the 800s is nearly identical to that for finding books in the 300s:

1. Confirm the location code (and that the book is not checked out).
2. Check the white-labeled regular shelving
3. Check the gold-labeled gold extended shelving
4. Check the book trucks that are labeled 800s
5. If you can't find it, ask for help or report the book missing at circulation.

When you get to step 4, note that the book trucks that have 800s are organized a little differently than those that hold books in the 300s. The book trucks with 800s are clustered near the vertical file cabinets and locked case near the 800s regular shelving area. Most of the trucks will hold either 823s or 843s - as was mentioned, these are two of our "fullest" call number ranges. Other call numbers in the 800s will be separated onto different trucks.

Because the 800s are such a full number range, the call numbers are often quite lengthy. Here are three examples:

843.914 A1162c
843.914 A1162d
843.914 A1162v

These are all French language literature books by the same author, Noureddine Aba, an Algerian playwright and poet. You can see that in addition to being classed by subject and all being 843.914s, these books also have similar sequences at the end of their numbers - this sequence of letter+number+letter is called the "Cutter" number, which normally within the Dewey Decimal system consists of only numbers, but because our collection is so expansive, we use "modified" Dewey which lets catalogers add on an extra sequence of letters at the end.

The point of this little lesson is that when looking for books in the 800s (and elsewhere in the collection), it's important to make sure you have the call number written down correctly, with all the numbers and letters accounted for and legible. Given that our collection is so large, it is almost impossible to find a particular book without an exact call number. Also, if you're looking for a book in our stacks and really feel that it *must* be there but don't see it in the exact spot it should be on the shelf or on the trucks, try looking a little ahead and after the call number sequence - with such long call numbers, it's easy for books to get misplaced or mis-shelved.

Next up, the wily 900s...