The Union Catalog of Pre-1600 Books Online: Usage Hints

This page is part of the pre-1600 Books Online collection.

Perusing the Subjects

These books are organized in a subject tree by Library of Congress call number. So, for example, the "P" category covers Language and Literature, and it is broken down into a bunch of sub-categories for different languages. Each single-letter category has its own page on this site; a summary of the sub-categories is shown at the top of each category page. You can see the books which are NOT pre-1600 by clicking on the appropriate link on the category page.

The call numbers come from the various libraries which are digitizing these books, and so they aren't very consistant. You may find a similar group of books is filed under a couple of different call numbers, plus some books with no call number at all. (Books lacking a call number are in the "_" category.) You may also find that many of these books have multiple copies scanned, again often filed under different call numbers.

To find these related books and additional copies, I suggest using the search function.


Search by typing a word or phrase into the search box. By default, if you enter multiple words, it will return books with titles and authors that contain all the words, but they don't have to be next to each other. This means that a search for
john smith
will match both "John Smith" and "Smith, John" -- the authors of books will often have their name in either order.

This also means that a search for the phrase
queen elizabeth
will match a book with queen in the title and elizabeth in the author. If you want to search for exactly the phrase "queen elizabeth", put it in double quotes:
"queen elizabeth"

Searches will return books that are pre-1600, and then books which are not selected as pre-1600. This is handy for finding books which ought to be labeled pre-1600, but aren't. (Please see my plea below to find out how to tell me about books which are improperly labeled.)

Reading the actual books

The books in this collection come in a variety of formats. Some are plain text or plain HTML. Others are PDF files, which you can read with your favorite PDF reader, such as Adobe Acrobat. Aout 3/4 of these books are stored as DjView files. DjView is a format developed specifically for books; it stores the text as black-and-white, and uses a color image to capture the paper background. DjView files are typically less than half the size of a PDF.

You can download a djvu client. You can either view the djvu file in your browser, or you can download it to view it later.

Many of these books have flaws: missing pages, unreadable pages. For the books from, you can report problems on the website. In many cases, multiple copies of a book have been scanned, and you can find the missing page in another copy.

Help me!

As you can see, not all the books in this collection are selected as pre-1600 or not selected when they should be. If you let me know about these problems, I'll fix them. Please cut and paste the title and author into an email, and send it to

Return to the pre-1600 Books Online collection.

Webbed by Gregory Blount / Greg Lindahl (