For Fall 2020, we will be open by appointment only. Check this page to find out what's happening and make an appointment.
Inside the library, you will find most books on Literature in the "P" section. You can walk over and explore by browsing, or use the library catalog to search for specific items.
Your RISD ID is your library card. With it, you can normally check out:
As of summer 2020, we offer contactless pickup of books and DVDs. Fill out the request form here.
We have a bunch of great collections that might surprise you!
Thanks for asking! It's one of our favorite questions, and the answer is complicated.
You've probably heard of the Dewey Decimal system. That's what most public libraries use (and your high school library too, possibly). However, most colleges and universities, including RISD, use the Library of Congress Classification System. In some ways, it is easier to use than Dewey! The letters at the beginning of each call number can help you navigate topics. For example, if you are studying comics, it's pretty simple to remember that comics are filed under NC. Looking for literature? You'll find it in the P section. A lot of the Fleet Library collection is classified under the letter N.
Here is a library map (PDF) if you're interested in where things are. If you are in a particular major (or exploring), you can usually find the most pertinent call numbers on the library Research Guide for that subject. Or just ask us!
So what's complicated? Well, this system is old. It was created just before the year 1900. "New" topics don't always fit into the system perfectly - they are squeezed in. Classification systems also reflect the world views and prejudices of their creators, and change must be fought for by those of us who use the systems. For just one example, "homosexuality" was classified under "sexual perversion" until 1972 when a group of librarian activists petitioned to have it moved to "sexual life" (PDF). Language related to sexuality, gender, and racial identity can be especially poorly handled within the system. But we keep working to make it better, because it is incredibly useful overall! If you'd like to learn more, feel free to ask a librarian.