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Library Subject Guides

Physics: Books

What Are Call Numbers?

Call numbers explained

High Demand

Textbooks and recommended readings are often put on short-term loan in the High Demand collection.

Search for your course code:


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 Ebooks

  • Most ebooks can be found by a normal search in the Library Catalogue, or via MultiSearch, and are identified with an electronic book icon.
  • Find ebooks via MultiSearch
    – enter a search such as quasiparticle* AND crystal* in the search box

Library of Congress Classification for Physics

Most Physics books in the UC Library are shelved in the QC section of the EPS Library . The Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System for classification and shelving. Consider also Astronomy (QB).

QC 1-999 Physics
1–75 General
81–114 Weights and Measures
120–168.85 Descriptive and Experimental Mechanics
170–197 Atomic Physics, Constitution and Properties of Matter (including molecular physics, relativity, quantum theory, and solid state physics)
221–246 Acoustics, Sound
251338.5 Heat
310.15–319 Thermodynamics
350467 Optics, Light
450–467 Spectroscopy
474–496.9 General Radiation Physics
501766 Electricity and Magnetism
669–675.8 Electromagnetic Theory
676–678.6 Radio Waves (Theory)
701–715.4 Electric Discharge
717.6–718.8 Plasma Physics, Ionized Gasses
750–766 Magnetism
770798 Nuclear and Particle Physics, Atomic Energy, Radioactivity
793–793.5 Elementary Particle Physics
794.95–798 Radioactivity and Radioactive Substances
801–809 Geophysics
811849 Geomagnetism
825–826 Magnetic Surveys
830–845 Magnetic Observations
851999 Meteorology, Climatology (including the earth's atmosphere)
871–874.8 Technique, Instructions for Observers
875.5–876.7 Meterological Instruments
878.5–879.562 Aeronomy
879.57 Handbooks, Tables, Formulas, etc.
879.59 Observations, Data Summaries
879.6–879.8 Atmospheric Chemistry
880 Dynamic Meteorology
881–881.2 Atmospheric Shells
882 Atmospheric Pollutants
883–883.2 Cosmic Relations
883.4–883.56 Mesometeorology
883.7–883.86 Micrometeorology
884–884.2 Paleoclimatology
885–896 Atmospheric Pressure
901–913.2 Temperature and Radiation
915–929 Aqueous Vapor
920.7–921.43 Clouds
921.48–921.6 Cloud Physics
924–926.2 Rain and Rainfall
930.5–959 Wind
940.6–959 Storms, Cyclones
960.5–969 Electrical Phenomena in the Atmosphere
970–972.5 Aurora
972.6–973.8 Radio Meteorology, Microwave Meteorology
974.5–976 Meteorological Optics
980–999 Climatology and Weather
982–993.7 Geographic Divisions
993.83–994.9 Ocean Areas, Maritime Meteorology
994.95–999 Weather Forecasting

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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