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How to Use the Library

Learn to use the library’s resources.

The Print Collection

Welcome to the Library

The J. W. Martin Library on the Alva campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University has over 100,000 books and 30,000 bound volumes of scholarly journals available for your use.

Read this page, and then take the quiz to test your knowledge.

Video Tutorial


  • If you are on or near our Alva campus, you can browse or search the collection on-site at the J. W. Martin Library and check out books with your student I.D. card.

  • If you are on or near one of our satellite campuses in Enid or Woodward, or if you are studying in Ponca City, you can order books by courier and receive them in one to two business days.

  • If you are at another location, you can order books to be sent to you through the mail.

Call Numbers

Look at the spines of our books:

Book spine displaying call numbers.
Call numbers as they appear on the spines of library books.

Those labels contain call numbers. The call number tells you where a book is shelved. When you look up a book in the catalog, you will find the call number, and you can then go to the shelf where the book is located.

There are two sets of digits in a call number:

  1. Dewey decimal number (for example, 708.051)
  2. Cutter number (for example, B633d)

Now look at the ends of our shelving units:

End of a shelf displaying call numbers.
A range of Dewey numbers displayed on the end of a shelf.

Each shelf has a range of numbers printed on it. When you have a call number for your book, you can find the book on the shelf with the appropriate range. If you want the book with number 708.051, go to the shelf containing numbers 708.05 to 735.045.

Dewey Decimal Numbers

The first part of a call number is assigned according to the Dewey Decimal System.

Melvil Dewey invented this system for organizing libraries in . The numbers represent categories of knowledge.

You don’t need to know what the numbers mean to use the system—you just need to know that books are arranged in numerical order on the shelves.

Here are the ten classes of Dewey Decimal Classification:

Table 1
Dewey Decimal Classes
000–099General Reference & Information Science
100–199Philosophy, Psychology, & Logic
300–399Social Science
400–499Natural Science & Mathematics
600–699Technology, Applied Science, & Medicine
700–799Fine Arts
900–999History & Biography

This system keeps books on the same subject next to one another. If you find one book on the subject you’re researching, scan the other books nearby to see if you can use them too.

Cutter Numbers

Close-up of book spines with Cutter numbers emphasized.
Cutter numbers.

The second number on the spine is the Cutter number.

You don’t need to know how Cutter numbers work; the important thing is that the number is a shortened way of writing an author’s last name. After a book gets a Dewey decimal number representing its subject, it also gets a Cutter number for its author.

On the shelves, the books are arranged numerically by Dewey decimal number and also alphanumerically by Cutter number. These numbers together make up the call number. You should be able to find a book on the shelf with the call number—but if you can’t, ask the library staff for help.

The first letter of the Cutter number is the first letter of the author’s last name. The numerals are ordered like the numerals after a decimal point, which is why, in this photograph, C762c comes after C7393c.


If it is …Then its call number is …
NonfictionDewey decimal number + Cutter number
FictionF + Cutter number
ReferenceRef. + Dewey decimal number + Cutter number
BiographyB + Cutter number
Juvenile nonfictionDewey decimal number + Cutter number + L.S.
Juvenile fictionF + Cutter number + L.S.

Take the quiz!