Library FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT ARE THE LC CALL NUMBERS?

Most people are familiar with public and school libraries that use the Dewey Decimal System (DD) to organize the books in the libraries. The DD call number system divides all knowledge into ten (10) basic numerical classes with decimals, such as 813 for literature or 225.7 for New Testament commentaries. However, colleges and universities in the United States use the Library of Congress System (LC) to organize information. Knowing something about the LC (Library of Congress) call number system is helpful in understanding the organization in the FFC library and how to find items.

The LC system divides all knowledge into twenty-one (21) basic classes, each identified by a single letter of the alphabet.

  • A — GENERAL WORKS
  • B — PHILOSOPHY. PSYCHOLOGY. RELIGION
  • C — AUXILIARY SCIENCES OF HISTORY
  • D — WORLD HISTORY AND HISTORY OF EUROPE, ASIA, AFRICA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, ETC.
  • E — HISTORY OF THE AMERICAS
  • F — HISTORY OF THE AMERICAS
  • G — GEOGRAPHY. ANTHROPOLOGY. RECREATION
  • H — SOCIAL SCIENCES
  • J — POLITICAL SCIENCE
  • K — LAW
  • L — EDUCATION
  • M — MUSIC AND BOOKS ON MUSIC
  • N — FINE ARTS
  • P — LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
  • Q — SCIENCE
  • R — MEDICINE
  • S — AGRICULTURE
  • T — TECHNOLOGY
  • U — MILITARY SCIENCE
  • V — NAVAL SCIENCE
  • Z — BIBLIOGRAPHY. LIBRARY SCIENCE. INFORMATION RESOURCES (GENERAL)

Most of these alphabetical classes are further divided into more specific subclasses, identified by two-letter, or occasionally three-letter, combinations.
For example, class B, Philosophy. Psychology. Religion, gets divided into subclasses.

  • BC, Logic
  • BR, Christianity
  • BV, Practical Theology
  • as well as several other subclasses.

Everything within a subclass letter group relates to some aspect of that same topic. For example, all BV books will have something to do with Practical Theology.

Call numbers are added, and may be further extended by decimal numbers, such as 5549.5. Some also combine a letter of the alphabet with a number.

For example, The New King James Bible: New Testament. CALL NUMBER: BS2095 .N38 1979, or Colossians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. BS2650.3 .T64.

The final number may include the date of publication, as seen in the above example, BS2095 .N38 1979


HOW DO I FIND RELIABLE SOURCES IN A DATABASE?

Each kind of information source has a different way to find things within it. However, the basic organization is the same. All information sources have the following:

  • A title
  • An author
  • A listing of the item for you to find by topic or subject in a catalog or record somewhere
  • A place that it is located, either in print or online (in a library, in a database, etc.)
  • An index, table of contents, abstract, or subject links that concisely tell what it is about
  • A date or time that it was created and/or accessed online

With that in mind, use your information sources in the following way:

  • Books — use the library catalog to locate a book, check the table of contents (front) or the index (back) of the book, and skim a few chapters to see if it will provide useful information.
  • Newspapers — use the index on the newspaper, or use the newspaper database available through Ebsco, check the article’s first paragraph to see if it will provide useful information.
  • Research Databases — use the databases to locate relevant items, check item subject links and abstract to see if it will provide useful information.
  • Internet Websites — use the FFC list of reliable Internet websites, or search on your own. Evaluate the validity of the website by checking the reliability of who wrote the information, and for what purpose it was written, how current it is, and how credible the information is.
  • Personal interviews — establish the credentials and background of the person being interviewed, prepare the questions to ask in advance, write or tape the interview and ask for the right to quote the person in your work.
  • Television, movies, or radio — you can get written transcripts of some of these from the Ebsco database, Newspaper Source. Review them to see if they will provide useful information.
  • Others — be creative in locating other sources, such as professors papers, historical documents, etc.

How Do I Use the Research Databases? 

You can follow this step-by-step guide to practice using the research databases provided through the FFC library.  You will learn the following:

  • how to select which databases(s) to use for a given topic,
  • how many items the database(s) can find for your general topic,
  • how to narrow the results to be more focused on your specific topic,
  • how to quickly determine the usefulness of each item listed, and
  • how to read the bibliography information shown with each item.
    1. Go to the EBSCO Research Databases and log in.  (You can obtain user information from the librarian.)
    2. Scroll down to and click on EBSCOhost Web.
    3. Select which database(s) you want to use. Each database title has a short description of what kind of information you can locate within it.  Then click Continue.
    4. In the Find box, type in one of your topic search words.  In the Refine Search area below, check the box Full Text (so that you only get hits with the full article and not just the bibliographic information). Click Search.
    5. Look at the Results of the search to determine how many items were found for the topic.  “1-10 of 242” means that there are 242 items found, and you are looking at the first 10.
    6. If this is too many items to look through, think of how you can enter a different search parameter that will give you results that are more closely related to your specific topic.
    7. Select one of the titles that looks promising.  Quickly look at two areasSubject Terms and Abstract. These give you a short summary of what the article is about.  If it looks useful, you will want to read the entire article below and keep it. If you want to save it, click on ADD TO FOLDER on the right of the page.
    8. EBSCO offers several tools that you will definitely want to utilize.  You can PRINT the article, E-MAIL it to yourself, and even find the correct CITATION for it!

HOW DO I START MY RESEARCH?

1. Begin your library work by establishing precisely what it is that you want to do.

  • Do you want simple answers for your personal use? Or do you want considerable researched information for a class assignment?
  • What do you already know about the topic that will help you focus your topic search? Write it down and brainstorm some different aspects of the topic that interest you.
  • What kind of product will you be making — A mental note? A research paper? A multimedia presentation? Get specific guidelines for the requirements to be completed.
  • How much time do you have to devote to this work? From the day on which the assignment is given, mark the due date, allow at least one extra day for error, and schedule backwards the completion dates that you want to meet for each phase of the work. For example, for a due date of May 9, have your project totally complete and ready to hand in by May 8 or earlier. Have the rough draft completed at least 2 weeks before that date. Allow as much time as possible for synthesizing the information into main thoughts and paragraphs. Before that, set a reasonable date by which all information gathering should be completed. By planning and giving yourself your own due dates, you will gain control. Some students only work with deadlines looming. Those due dates may be the force that makes you deliver on time.

2. Give your brain some foundation on which to add new information.

  • Find and read a children’s book, encyclopedia article, or other simple explanation of the subject before delving into deeper research.
  • Complete a wide, general search on the topic. Do not restrict yourself during the first exploratory stage, but do not allow yourself to wander off track.
  • Look at the subject links or “see also” references for possible subtopics.
  • Establish main ideas for which you will be looking for information. Write them down.

3. Realize that no one source of information is sufficient to provide everything you should know about a topic. Use the following:

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Research Databases
  • Internet Websites
  • Personal interviews
  • Television, movies, or radio
  • Others

4. ALWAYS document every single piece of information that you gather, whether you think you will use it or not, because you may change your mind later and need to reference it in your bibliography.


HOW DO I ORGANIZE WHAT I HAVE FOUND?
Gather, consider, categorize, expand, and explain. These are the main components of organizing all of your information into the finished product. Hopefully, you have learned something new from your research. This stage of the project is where you have the opportunity to be creative. Your finished product will be unique and truly interesting to the reader if you allow yourself time to consider and formulate your own thoughts.

  • Gathering means getting all of the books, printouts, notes, outlines, pictures, and information that you have been able to find and placing them together in one spot. Read through at one time all that is gathered. Set aside as much time as it takes to read everything completely.
  • Considering means to reflect on what you have read. Different sources and different authors will have different approaches to even the same information. Analyze what they are saying, allow yourself to make judgments, consider other possibilities that may have been left out in the writing. Make short notes of your own thoughts as you consider your research.
  • Categorizing means to separate your findings into the different subtopics or different aspects of the main topic researched. As you were gathering and considering your research, you will have begun to notice the range of information you have. There may be many facts that are the same in several sources. Pull out those facts that are different and group them in categories as subtopics.
  • Expanding means starting by writing a simple sentence of your own thoughts about each subtopic. The subtopics do not have to be sorted in any particular order yet. Expand each thought into one or more paragraphs; broaden the thoughts by providing supporting facts or illustrations. Add-in quoted material as needed for focus or emphasis.
  • Explaining means more than just recounting the facts that you have gathered. Your brain is amazing. Having completed the first steps of this project — gathering, considering, categorizing, and expanding, your brain will have made connections and synthesized new ideas that are uniquely yours. This new knowledge is made up of the facts and your intellectual reasoning. That is the basis for your product. Put that new knowledge into a form that explains what your research has found.
    1. Prepare an opening sentence, opening slide, or opening scene that could eventually become the same as your closing one.
    2. In the opening paragraph, briefly tell what areas/subtopics will be covered in the paper. Then develop the details of each area in logical progression through the remainder of the project.
    3. Set the project aside for a time.
    4. Reread your work. Ask yourself if each thought has been explained clearly and thoroughly. Be sure that the transitions into new paragraphs are logical and flow easily.
    5. Allow your final paragraph to make a strong conclusion.
    6. Present your product in a professional manner that is neat and visually appealing.