Theatre 266: Browsing

Playwriting & Production
Professor: Ann Marie Dorr
Spring 2022

ACTIVITY: Researching Writing: Browsing for Inspiration & Character

Research Tip: Browsing the Stacks

Browsing the Stacks

Williams College Libraries arrange materials on the shelves using the Library of Congress Classification System. This system groups together materials on similar subjects in the same call number range. This system is used in the book stacks and in the reference collection. Knowing the call number range for a particular subject will allow you to browse the shelves for materials.

History, Arts, Design

The areas below are useful in helping to understand the historical context and design elements appropriate for that context:

  • General and World History: D
    (World History has breakdowns by country. Within each category, it is further arranged by time period.)
  • American History: E and F
  • Manners and Customs: GT
    • Houses. Dwellings: GT 170-474
    • Costume. Dress. Fashion: GT500-2370
  • Social History: HN
  • Music: M
    • History and Criticism: ML 159-360 (arranged by special time periods and then by country)
    • Musical Theater: MT955-956
  • Fine Arts: N
    • History of Art: N5300-7418 (arranged by time periods and movements, followed by countries arranged by time period then movements)
    • Special Subjects of Art: N7570-8266
    • Painting: ND
    • Architecture: NA
    • Decorative Arts: NK
      • Interior Decoration. House Decoration: NK1700-3505
  • Technology: T
    • Artistic Photography: TR644-687 (see detailed list)
      • Portraits: TR680-681
      • Fashion Photography: TR679
    • Clothing Manufacture. Dressmaking. Tailoring: TT490-695
    • Hairdressing: TT950-979
    • Home Economics: TX

Browsing Virtually

While there is really no substitute for practicing finding items and browsing the collection in person, you can practice a little bit online by using the Virtual Browse functionality in the catalog. This feature shows you a revolving menu of the physical items in call number order, so in essence it is recreating the physical shelving order of the books and other items in both Sawyer and Schow.

To utilize this feature you must first be looking at the record of a physical item. After performing a search, look for an item record that lists the item as "Available at [library] ([call number]). This information will be located below the title, author, and year of publication of the item - see screenshot below for reference.

book results list with location and call number

Click the title of the item to go to the item's record. This is the screen where you can request the item for pickup, or scans of the item, among other important tasks and information. If you scroll to the bottom of the record you will see the Virtual Browse feature - screenshot below.

screenshot of Virtual Browse in library catalog

Use the arrows on either side to scroll through items as you would find them on the shelf! Again, this is less exciting than browsing in person, but it does show how connections between the subjects of the materials are made.

You may also be able to browse inside the book using the Table of Contents or This item in links the Links section.

screenshot of Links section of catalog record