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Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Services, Finding Materials
Finding Materials

One of the hallmarks of a modern library is that materials are classified; this means that items about a specific subject are generally all shelved in the same place. The library also separates certain materials from the rest based on age group or topic into several locations, such as any of our specialized libraries or special collections . These special locations are noted within the catalog item record.

Call Number

Call numbers are basically a shorthand way of indicating the subject of library materials. A BA call number consists of a Dewey Decimal (DDC) number, combined with a Cutter number indicating the author. The Dewey Decimal number combined with the Cutter number provides a unique identifier for each item in the library.

Read a call number line by line:

Dewey Decimal Classification, 21 st ed. (DDC21)

Cutter-Sanborn tables




V. 1


Prefix indicates Reference Materials

DDC number, to be read as a single number, 004, 050, 100, 100.2, 960, 962.9...

Cutter number is a combination of letters & numbers, read the letter in alphabetical order and read the numbers in order 5544, 5545, 5612...

Volume number, arranged in sequence, V. 1, V. 2...

The year the book was published, arranged in chronological order, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1999, 2002...

The following are some samples of location and call numbers found in the BA Catalog and on the shelves:

Call number
530.092 E357ei 1987
Main Library : B1 - General
Vol. 1
530.092 E357ei V. 1 1987

920.72 U569 1998
Main Library : B4 - References
Ref. 920.72 U569 1998

Prefixes used on the shelf item labels:

Ref.: Reference
YP: Young People Library
Ch.: Children Library
TH: Taha Hussein Library
UN: United Nations (Government Documents)
Rare: Rare books
Sp. col.: Special Collections
Nobel: Nobel Collection
Sh. A.: Shadi Abdel Salam
NC: Non-Circulated Material

Finding Books

To see if the library has a particular book on your topic, you may start your search in the BA Catalog to find the call number and the location of the item you want. All Main Library materials are located within the seven levels of the main reading hall (see collection organization).

Finding Print Journals and Periodicals

Using the BA Catalog

If you know the journal title, search by title or journal title in the BA Catalog

Type your title in the "Search Terms" box after omitting articles (a, an, the) and their non-English equivalents when they appear at the beginning of a title. Then click Search

Finding Materials

Title Index Screen

On the Title Index Screen look for the title you want and click on it.

Finding Materials

Record Display Screen

Clicking on the selected title will take you to the record display screen, showing you the location, frequency, and library holdings available from the selected journal title.

Finding Materials

If you do not find your journal in the catalog, the library might not own it in print form. Check available Electronic Resources to see if it is available electronically.

On the Shelves

Current issues of journals (current year) are located on level B4 and arranged in alphabetical order by title after omitting articles (a, an, the) and their non-English equivalents when they appear at the beginning of a title. Arabic titles are alphabetized first, then other languages.

Back issues of journals are either bound or filed in pamphlet boxes. They are available in the periodical section on level B4 or kept in Closed Stacks.

Finding References Materials

Reference materials include encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories, indexes, handbooks, almanacs, etc. They are located on level B4 and arranged by call number. You may find the reference material you want by searching the BA Catalog. All reference materials have shelf item labels displaying Ref. on the first line of the label.