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Course & Subject Guides

Tips for Navigating Owen Library - Johnstown Campus: Finding Books & AV Materials

Don't get lost in Owen Library! Learn how to find and access various resources & services available at Owen Library or through Pitt's University Library System.

Searching Techniques

Phrase Searching - PittCat allows for phrase searching with the use of “  “. For example, the search "climate change" will find items with the phrase climate change in them.

Wildcard and Truncation – You can use wildcards (* and ?) symbols to search PittCat.

Advanced Searching - Check the Advanced Search for more tips and techniques to enhance your search, including Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT). Note: Boolean Operators must be entered in all uppercase/capital letters.

The FUNdamentals of Book Care in Five Easy Lessons

Owen Library's Food & Drink Policy asks that no food be consumed anywhere in the Library and permits beverages that are in covered containers. Please help us ensure that our collections remain in good condition and will be available for future users by complying with this policy and applying the lessons found in the following video:


PittCat PittCat is the main searching tool for all of the materials owned by the University Library System (ULS), including articles, books, ebooks, journal articles, ejournals, audio and video, digital images, government documents, microfilm and movies.

Searching PittCat

Signing into PittCat gives you access to the most results. The sign in option is in the upper right hand corner of your screen. 

To begin a search, enter a term in the “search anything” box. You can select Books, Articles, and More to search for items across the entire library system including journal articles, images, ebooks, and more. Use the Library Catalog option to search for items available both electronically and physically in our libraries such as books, videos, music scores and more. The Course Reserves option will help you find materials put on reserve by instructors for a specific course.

The Results Screen shows you a list of items with basic information--click on a title to get a more detailed overview of the item you’ve selected. This detailed view gives you much more information about the item. You can see where the item is located and ways to email or print the record as well as how to cite. You may also see an abstract for the item or a table of contents if available.

You can Refine Your Results by using the menu on the left. If you only want a physical copy of the book pick “library holdings” or if you want an electronic copy of a book, choose e-book.

If Full-Text Content is available, you can get the full-text by clicking on the item title or the "available online" link.

You can add Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) into the Simple Search (the default search box) by adding them in all caps.

PittCat Basic Search

How to read a call number

Every book in the library has a unique call number that indicates where it is shelved. Just as a house address tells where exactly a house is located on a street, a call number tells us where exactly on the shelves we can expect to find a book. Call numbers at Owen Library and the University Library System are arranged according to the Library of Congress Classification scheme (LCC). LCC is an alphanumeric scheme, i.e., it uses both letters and numbers.

For example:



LCC numbers are read from top to bottom.

Look for the letters first, on the top line: HA. Read in alphabetical order, A-Z.

Then look at the whole number on the next line: 1625. Read in numeric order, 1-9999.

Then look at the letter(s) after the dot: O. Again, read in alphabetical order.

Then look at the decimal number: 87. Hint: read left to right numerically; nothing comes before something.

Last, you will see the year the book was published: 1999. Earliest date (or no date) comes first, if the rest of the call number is identical.


DON'T FORGET: Read the number before the . (dot) as a whole number. Read the number after the . (dot) as a decimal. So .A52 comes before .A6.



image of call numbers on books spines

The four books above are in the correct order.


The complete list of classes & subclasses and the subjects they reperesent is available in the Library of Congress Classification outline.