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Library Subject Guides

Music: Books and ebooks

What Are Call Numbers?

Call numbers explained

High Demand

Books and DVDs in High Demand  are held on 3-Day, 1-Day or 3-Hour Loan

  • Shelved in the Self-Loan Area on level 2
  • Use the Course code search in the Library Catalogue  – or use the search box below
    e.g. MUSA 131


If you cannot find it at UC Library or online, request an Interloan and we will get it for you from another library. There is no charge for this service

Google Books

A good way to find out whether the details you seek are located in a book. Search previews of books and some full text of out-of-copyright titles; search terms are highlighted in results.

Google Book Search

Finding Music Books

Print Books

These are ordered on the shelves using the Library of Congress classification system

Electronic Books

The Library has an increasing number of ebooks. These do not have call numbers and you will only find them by searching the library catalogue or MultiSearch

Library of Congress Classifications for Music

 Bibliography     Biography     Analysis

Music Bibliography

ML 112 Books on music publishing and printing
ML 120 National bibliographies
ML 128 Topic bibliographies
ML 134 Composer bibliographies including thematic catalogues
ML 136 Public library catalogues
ML 138 Private library catalogues
ML 156–158                Guides to recorded music
See also RILM Abstracts (The Repertory of International Music Literature)


Music Biography

Books about composers and performers

Collected Biographies
ML 385 General
ML 390 Composers
ML 394-402 Performers
ML 394 General instrumental
ML 396 Organists
ML 397 Pianists
ML 398 String players
ML 399 Other instrumentalists
ML 400 Singers
ML 402 Conductors
ML 404 Instrument manufacturers
Individual Biographies
ML 410 Books about particular composers and their music, arranged alphabetically by the composer’s name
ML 416 Organists
ML 417 Pianists
ML 418 String players
ML 419 Other individual performers
ML 420 Singers
ML 421 Vocal and instrumental performing groups
ML 422 Conductors


Music Analysis

MT 90 General guides to musical works
MT 92 Guides to the music of individual composers
MT 95 General guides to operas and ballets
MT 100 Guides to the operas of particular composers
MT 110 General guides to cantatas and oratorios
MT 115 Guides to the cantatas and oratorios of a particular composer
MT 125 General guides to orchestral music
MT 130 Guides to the orchestral music of particular composers
MT 140 General guides to solo and ensemble music (e.g., music for solo piano, violin and piano, chamber music, etc.)
MT 145 Guides to solo and ensemble music of particular composers
ML 390 Books about many composers
ML 410 Books about particular composers and their music, arranged alphabetically by the composer’s name

Call Numbers Explained

Find a Book on the Shelf

To find a book on the Library shelves you will need to know its call number. Call numbers are printed on the spine of the book and are also listed in the Library Catalogue. They tell you where the book is located in the library.

The University of Canterbury library, like most academic libraries, uses the Library of Congress Classification system. In this system, the call numbers start with letters of the alphabet.

  • The first letter refers to the subject area, e.g. Q – Science
  • Sometimes another letter is added to refer to a more specific aspect of the subject, e.g. QD – Chemistry

Reading Call Numbers: Library of Congress Classification System

Read the call number line by line:

  • Read the first line in alphabetical order.
  • The first set of numbers that follow are read as whole numbers and are arranged numerically on the shelves.


This diagram explains how Library of Congress call numbers work on the library shelves:


Call Numbers

(This image was produced by librarians at the University of Maryland Libraries (User Education Services), College Park, MD.)

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