Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the challenge of locating a book when you first walk into a library? I know that I have. Each library seems to organize its books differently and I always struggle with figuring out which system is being used. To try and help make life easier I want to share some of the tips I’ve picked up about two of the ways that libraries organize their books.    

Library of Congress

The library of congress method was developed specifically for the Library of Congress to organize their books. Everything in the library is divided into 21 subject categories that are identified by letters of the alphabet.

Ex. Science is identified by the letter Q. 

Within those categories there are limitless options for subclasses that are identified by a second letter attached to the first.

Ex. Astronomy is identified by the letters QB. Following the letters, a series of numbers indicates the specific topic of the book.

Ex. The planet Mars is identified by the number 641. 

After the subject has been identified, the author’s last name is indicated on the call number by a period, the first letter of the author’s last name and a series of numbers. This is then followed by the year of publication. 

Thus a completed call number looks something like: QB 641 .C54 2012.               

Broken down: QB (subject) 641 (specific topic) .C54 (author last name) 2012 (year) 

Because there are no limits to how many subcategories can be put into one of these call numbers this organizational system works well for very large libraries, such as government or university libraries.               

Dewey Decimal

The Dewey Decimal system was developed by Melvil Dewey as a way of arranging all knowledge. In this system, books are organized by fields of study. There are 10 fields which each contain 10 specific sections. In contrast to the Library of Congress method, everything in the Dewey Decimal system is organized by numbers. A broad number indicates one of the 10 fields of study and smaller numbers represent more specific sections.               

Ex. Books about science are identified by the number 500. Within that, books about space fall under the number 520 and books specifically about Mars are listed as 523.43. 

Following these numbers, the author is indicated on the call number by the first three letters of their last name. This is then followed by the year of publication. 

Thus a completed Dewey Decimal call number looks something like: 523.43 LOM 2014.

Broken down: 523 (general subject) .43 (specific subject) LOM (author last name) 2014 (year)

Unfortunately, there is a limit to the combination of numbers that can be used in the Dewey Decimal system and so this method tends to work better for smaller libraries, such as school or public libraries. 

The odds are that one of these methods makes more sense to you than the other and that’s okay. Most people are partial to one organizational method and that is why both are used commonly in different libraries. Hopefully this helps you to understand a little bit about why each method is used and how to better navigate it the next time you visit a library.


A few years ago, I took a survey of my fellow librarians, asking them who their favorite audiobook narrators are.  We got some great suggestions! Since then, I’ve increased the amount of audiobooks I consume exponentially.  I read while I do household chores with the use of apps like Libby by OverDrive and RBdigital, and I usually have a book on CD in my non-bluetooth-enabled car.  I’ve heard a lot of amazing audiobooks, and a few duds.  I thought I’d create a list of some of my personal favorite audiobook narrators who I’ve discovered since that last blog post.


I first learned of Elizabeth Acevedo when she narrated PRIDE, which is an updated version of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Brooklyn.  Acevedo’s reading of that book was impressive, but if you really want to see what she can do, listen to her narrating her own work, the award-winning THE POET X, which tells the story of teenage Xiomara Batista’s struggles growing up in the Bronx, with the story told through poetry.  Acevedo’s skill as a slam poet is on full display here.


11.15 Tattooist of AuschwitzRICHARD ARMITAGE

Yes, I’m one of those people who first fell in love with Richard Armitage by watching British period dramas.  However, Armitage is making a name for himself not just on screen (in, for example, The Hobbit movies and Ocean’s 8), but in the audiobook world as well.  His reading of the TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ was so good, I frequently found myself idling in my car in front of my house, unable to turn the stereo off. 


11.15 Our Souls at NightMARK BRAMHALL

Mark Bramhall blew me away with his portrayal of Kent Haruf’s main character, Louis Waters, in the audio narration of OUR SOULS AT NIGHT.  For me, Bramhall was Louis Waters.  I will now gladly read anything he narrates, which is great news for me, since Bramhall has some great books in his repertoire.


11.15 Anna and the Swallow ManALAN CORDUNER

I first ran into Alan Corduner when I listened to ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN, a beautifully written, magical book about a mysterious man who saves a young Jewish girl during World War II, and they spend the next few years on the run.  I have since enjoyed other books narrated by Corduner, and was especially glad to see that Corduner is one of the narrators in the cast recording of Julie Berry’s LOVELY WAR. Corduner’s narration of Lovely War is especially exciting for me since Berry is one of my favorite YA authors.



Fiona Hardingham seems to have narrated mostly YA fantasy novels recently, but I love her for narrating a humorous take on Jane Eyre: MY PLAIN JANE.  In the historical fiction vein, her reading of THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR was also enchanting.


And that's not all! Be on the lookout for another upcoming post with a few more of my favorite audiobook narrators.

I Judged that Cover 

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s great advice! I can’t count how many books I almost didn’t read because my inner snark judged the cover. Fortunately for me, my inner snark doesn’t win every battle and I’ve found some really good stories by relying on friends’ recommendations rather than the cover.   Here are some fabulous books that I prejudged: 

11.13 Along for the RideALONG FOR THE RIDE
By Sarah Dessen

I judged this cover because it posed three questions in my mind:

1. How long did it take the two models to get in that precarious and unnatural position?

2. Why is she wearing a dress while riding a bike?

3. Where are her shoes?

None of these questions were answered in the book, but it was still a fun read. 

The story follows an insomniac named Auden. Tired of her mother’s antics, she decides to spend her summer vacation with her dad and his new wife. Her time is filled with working, making new friends, and catching the eye of Eli, a fellow insomniac with a tortured past. Can Auden and Eli help each other find hope and healing?


11.13 Royal TargetROYAL TARGET
By Tracie Hunter Abramson

This cover gave off a James Bond meets The Princess Diaries vibe. An unlikely match that earned it a space on my “mustard and cheese” shelf (meaning this book puts together two elements that I like and has the potential to be really good or really bad). Fortunately, I found this book very enjoyable. 

Janessa Rogers is a CIA agent that specializes in linguistics and security detail. When she’s assigned to protect the royal family of Meridia, she knows her skills will be put to the test. However, she never suspected her assignment would require her to go undercover as Prince Garrett’s fiancée.


By Tamora Pierce

First of all, I would like the world to know that Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite authors. She’s amazing and the worlds she creates are beautiful and mesmerizing. That being said, this particular cover gave me pause. I mean, there’s A LOT I could say about this cover. But I’ll settle with: when your horse has better hair than you do, you know there’s a problem. 

Alanna wants nothing more than to be a knight. When her father plans to send her off to a convent to learn magic, she decides it’s time to take action. She convinces her twin brother, Thom, to switch places with her. Alanna, now disguised, becomes a royal page and learns how hard she must work to achieve her dream.


11.13 The Blue SwordTHE BLUE SWORD
By Robin McKinley

Why did I judge this cover? For two reasons:

1. That horse (you know which one).

2. The sword pictured is not, in fact, blue.You had one job, cover artist.

Anyway, this is a Robin McKinley book and her work is always solid. I felt connected to her characters and thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s a nice balance of action, plot, and character development. 

Harry Crewe is a recently orphaned girl. She travels across the ocean to live with her brother in the Royal Province of Daria. After arriving, she is kidnapped by the king of the native Hill-folk and finds herself on an adventure that changes her life forever.


11.13 Seeking PersephoneSEEKING PERSEPHONE
By Sarah M. Eden

I have a theory when it comes to this style of book covers: the number of Photoshop layers used directly correlates with the cheesiness level of writing (e.g., If you can easily see 7 layers, then the book will have a 7/10 cheese rating).  Eden proved my theory wrong. She proved it very wrong. This book is wonderful. It is well researched, gloriously written, and the sweet moments did not involve cheese. 

The Duke of Kielder needs an heir but he is the most feared man in England. Persephone needs financial stability but that seems nigh impossible. To solve their problems, they settle upon a marriage of convenience. But will they get more than they bargained for?


11.13 The Grand SophyTHE GRAND SOPHY
By Georgette Heyer

One of my best friends recommended this book to me. I borrowed her copy with this cover. Let me just say, I wondered what Belle from Beauty and the Beast was doing with a monkey and a guy that thought a green tailcoat was a good idea. I dragged my feet with starting this book, but once I did I couldn’t put it down.   

Sophy Stanton-Lacy finds herself in her aunt’s household while her father goes away on business. Upon her arrival, she realizes how desperately the family needs her help. One cousin is engaged to a bore, another is in love with a poet, the young children need some fun, and her uncle is useless. Sophy wastes no time in meddling in their affairs to ensure a happy ending for all.


There you have it! Six great books I never would have read had I allowed my inner snark to win. What are your favorite books with interesting cover art?

Poetry Quiz 

In a poetry rut? Hungry for fantastic metaphors and scrumptious imagery? Take our quiz and get a recommendation personally selected for you by a poetry-loving librarian at the Provo City Library!

What’s your favorite color?

  1. Wintergreen
  2. Carmine red and lapis lazuli blue
  3. The color of trees
  4. *Black—like my soul 

Which best describes your dream vacation?

  1. Somewhere with lots of nature
  2. Somewhere with lots of history
  3. Anywhere outside of America
  4. Somewhere spooky 

How do you feel about Marie Kondo?

  1. Keeping a house in order is a good thing.
  2. This world is chaos and disorder.Ideally we would clean and purge ourselves of untidiness, but cleaning is complicated and untidiness is intricate.
  3. Magical thinking.
  4. It’s a great way to subvert the capitalist patriarchy! 

Which superhero would you be?

  1. No thanks. I like the quiet of a normal human life.
  2. (Your Name), Patron Saint of (Your Favorite Food)
  3. Assassin of Assassins: fights those who hurt others
  4. Indigo Girl: can tell the future, talk to ghosts, read minds, cast spells 

How do you consume music?

  1. One album at a time
  2. Only in vinyl form. The sound quality is better on the older format and it’s fun to watch the needle move down in circles.
  3. Mixes and playlists
  4. I like to play it myself on whatever instrument I can get my hands on! 

Morning person or night owl?

  1. Morning person. I love silvery early dawns.
  2. I prefer the shrouded dusky skies of evening
  3. I love daylight when everyone’s out and I am a witness to the whole world!
  4. Night owl forever. 

Describe your style.

  1. Classic and practical
  2. Gucci-ish and dramatic
  3. Eclectic and flashy
  4. Bohemian and edgy 

If you answered mostly A, you’d love:

11.11 The Wild IrisTHE WILD IRIS
By Louise Gluck

In THE WILD IRIS, spareness meets loveliness, wryness meets praise for the beauty and sorrow of the natural world and of human beings and relationships. THE WILD IRIS is an astounding study in collection-building as it spans both a whole day and a cycle of seasons from spring to fall, with individual poems taking on different species of flowers, and Gluck building wonderful and surprising metaphors for each one that address marriage, grief, and her role as a woman and poet. Call number 811.54 GLU 


If you answered mostly B, you should read:

11.11 The InfernoTHE INFERNO
By Dante
(2009 translation)

Time to go back to the oeuvres of the ancients! Well, not exactly ancient—Dante wrote THE INFERNO during the Renaissance and if you haven’t read it yet, consider this your call to action. THE INFERNO is the first part of a three-part epic poem that explores the various circles of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise through the perspective of a fictional Dante, guided through the experience by Virgil. In THE INFERNO, the two descend to the depths of Hell while Dante narrates the whole thing using meticulous terza rima.

Call number 851 DAN 2009 


If you answered mostly C, try:

11.11 American Sonnets for My Past and Future AssassinAMERICAN SONNETS FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN
By Terrance Hayes

AMERICAN SONNETS is just that—sonnets by an American and about America and its current sociopolitical state, especially concerning race relations and the status of minorities. Influenced by the Gerard Manley Hopkins-like sprung rhythms and internal rhymes of hip-hop and rap, Hayes’ poems are sonically stellar tongue-twisters that inspire reflection on the words themselves and the slippery relationships between their definitions and connotations.

Call number 811.54 HAY 2018 

*From line 10 of “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [Any day now you will have the ability to feed the name]” 


If you answered mostly D, you’ll enjoy:

11.11 Witch WifeWITCH WIFE
By Kiki Petrosino

With an incantatory sound quality reminiscent of “Sow” by Sylvia Plath, WITCH WIFE is a delightful take on womanhood, femininity, and power in a patriarchal world. Although Petrosino’s collection feels very much a product of a contemporary moment, it hearkens to William Blake, Macbeth, and the subversive ways of women across centuries. It is at once dark, light, spooky, funny, weighty, and whimsical. 

Call number 811.6 PET 2017 


Find more poetry books on our second floor in call number section 811!

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