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MUSIC 102: American Popular Music

Reading Call Numbers (Music)

The series of letters and numbers on the spine or cover of the book, called the call number, helps you locate items on the shelf. Music materials are organized by subject first, and then by author and publication date. For example:

Book Title: The Beatles and McLuhan: Understanding the Electric Age

Author: Thomas MacFarlane

Call Number:

ML For books about music or musicians
421 For books about specific bands or ensembles
.B4 A book about a band whose name starts with B, then a number to separate different "B" groups
M157 The author's name begins with M, then the number separates him from other "M" authors
2013 The year this edition of this book was published

Notice that this means all the books about the Beatles should be shelved together, so finding this book will lead you to other resources.

Books about Individual Artists

Books about specific musicians are found in the ML 410s (for composers), 420s (for individual musicians), and 421s (for bands).

Biographies of Individual Artists 

ML420 and then alphabetically by performer name 

NOTE: This includes artists of all genres, so you'll see opera singers next to rap artists.


My Cross to Bear - by Gregg Allman ML420 A584x A3 2012

A Very Irregular Head: The Life of Syd Barrett - by Rob Chapman  ML420 B1348x C43 2010

The Resurrection of Johnny Cash: Hurt, Redemption, and American Recordings - by Graeme Thomson ML420 C265 T56 2011

Books about individual Bands

ML421 and then alphabetically by band name


Blink 182: The bands, the breakdown, & the return - by Joe Shooman ML421 B58 S56x 2010

MC5: Sonically Speaking: a tale of revolution and rock'n'roll - by Brett Callwood ML421 M42 C35 2010

U2: The definitive biography - by John Jobling ML421 U2 J63 2014

Books about Types/Genres of Popular Music

Call numbers can be used to browse around a specific type of music. This table is a general breakdown of where you'll find what.

Types and Styles of Music
ML3505-3509 Jazz
ML3521 Blues
ML3524 Country & Roots Music
ML3526 Disco
ML3527 Doo Wop
ML3527.8 Funk
ML3531 Rap & Hip Hop
ML3532 Reggae
ML3534 Pop and Rock - including Glam, Metal, Punk, etc.
ML3535.5 Salsa
ML3537 Soul
ML3540 Techno
Social and Political Aspects of Music
ML3918 F65 Folk Music                                                                                                                          
ML3918 J39 Jazz
ML3918 P67 Popular Music, includes books looking at the cultural context of pop music in war, resistance, & culture
ML3918 R37 Rap and Hip Hop,in the US and abroad
ML3918 R63 Rock Music


Where are these things?

So how do you find the books on the shelves?

The ends of the ranges of shelve have two different useful tools. One is an series of posters that break down the call numbers, sort of like what you see above on the right hand side, but a different level of detail. The other are "End Cap" metal holders towards the top that tell you what call numbers you'll find on that side of the aisle.

The Poster looks like this

The "End Cap" call number guides look like this.

The number on the top is always at the "upper right" of the range and the bottom number is at the "bottom left" if you stand in the aisle facing the shelves.