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FAQs & News

The FAQs list here is based on actual questions that have been posed by students in response to our introductory instruction sessions. Please let us know if there is a topic you would like to see covered here by emailing refer@mica.edu.

    • What and where is the Cage?

      This is where our  Special Collections are housed, on the lower level of the Library. They include artists' books, archives, graphic design and illustration annuals, and other rare and/or fragile materials. Only Decker staff librarians may enter the Cage.

    • How can I see artists' books from the Cage?

      There is an online visual catalog where you can view the collection. You can access it from the Library's homepage by clicking on the Book Arts Catalog link or go directly here: danube.mica.edu/ABCat/site/index.cfm. There is also a printed copy of the catalog available at the Reference desk. Cage materials can be used at a designated table within the Library by presenting your valid I.D. card to a librarian on the lower level.

    • How many books are in the Library Collection?

      The Library contains almost 64,000 monographs; the main focus of the collection is in the visual arts, while maintaining a broad, balanced collection in the humanities.

    • Why are the books organized by size?

      The collection is divided into sections like “quarto” (books over 12 inches tall) and “stacks” (books under 12 inches tall) to make maximum use of shelving space; i.e. all the smaller (stacks) books are grouped with a uniform shelving height. This also allows for large books like “folios” (books over 15 inches tall) to lay flat on special larger shelves.

    • What folio books can I check out from the Folio Room?

      The folio collection comprises both reference and circulating books. Any book that is not reference may be borrowed for 21 days. Reference books may only be borrowed by faculty members, for 24 hours.

    • How do I request a book that is checked out?

      If a book is currently checked out to another patron, a Circulation staff member can place a hold on it for you and then notify you once it has been returned.

    • How do I renew my books online?

      Students can view a list of their checked-out items -- and renew items -- using the Library Catalog by clicking on "My Account". Items can be renewed just twice through the catalog; for further renewals, visit or call the Circulation Desk (410) 225-2272.

    • How can I find out what books or periodicals other libraries have?

      World Cat (worldcatlibraries.org) can show you materials located in other libraries throughout the country, or those nearby by keying in your zip code. You can also use local libraries (there is a link located on the Library’s homepage) to directly borrow materials by using your currently validated MICA I.D. card. You can search their library catalogs from this page.

    • How do I request books or media from other libraries?

      If a book, article, film/video, or other item is not in the Decker Library, we can usually arrange to borrow a copy from elsewhere. The Interlibrary loan service is done online, with most materials available in 1-2 weeks. Occasionally, the lending library charges for the service. In this case, you will be notified of the charges before the book is ordered.

      Interlibrary Loan requests can be placed online with these forms:
      - Book Request
      - Article Request

    • I came to the Library with my class recently. How can I listen to your instruction again?

      At this time we do not have audio instructions (watch for them in the future). However, the Library's website contains a lot of the information that was presented during your class. For instance, there are INFO links for many of the research databases as well as information about using the Library.

    • How do I navigate the Stacks and Quarto sections of the Decker Library?

      The books are organized by subject using the Library of Congress Classification System, with call numbers using a combination of letters, numbers and decimal points. You can learn more about the LC system here, on the LC website. There is a handout with a summary of the system at the Reference Desk. Write down the call number and the location of the book (e.g. stacks, quarto, folio, reference, etc.) from your catalog search.

      Once you have the call number and location of the book from the book catalog, go to the appropriate section (e.g. stacks, quarto, folio, reference) and find the call number range by looking at the signs on the ends of the book shelves. The system runs alphabetically with the letter “A” on the far right of the shelving area in both stacks and quarto areas. The individual shelves "read" from left to right, then top to bottom and continue to the top of the next shelf range.

      First, find the section for the first letter(s) of the call number (e.g. N, NA, NB, SB, TR, or Z), then look for the numbers which are arranged numerically (e.g. 9, 10, 15, 15.5). Then, look at the next letter and numbers which follow a dot (e.g. .C41). The letters will also be arranged alphabetically, but the numbers that follow read as decimals, such that .C41 comes before .C5. Here is a webpage that shows books arranged correctly according to this system.

    • How do you choose what magazines you subscribe to?

      All materials are selected on the basis of relevance to the curriculum and also considering the recreational interests of the students, faculty and staff.

    • Are language software programs available in the Library?

      The Library subscribes to Mango Languages, an online language-learning system for Spanish, French, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Mandarin Chinese, Greek, Italian and more. Access it through the Research Databases page.

    • How can I access an E-Book that I found in the Decker Library's online catalog?

      To access E-Books found in the Decker Library's online catalog, click on the link displayed by each E-Book title within the catalog search results list, or within the E-Book's full catalog record display. This takes you to the access page for that title, and you can begin navigating through the E-Book via the Table of Contents.

      E-Books can also be accessed through the Research Databases page by searching the eBook Academic Collection (off-campus access), where you can search and view the full text of ~100,000 eBooks.

      Off-campus access is available by logging in through the Library Catalog or using the off-campus link shown above.

      More information and screen shots of eBook access systems are available here.

    • Can I still use the library once I graduate? In particular can I still use the databases from home?

      MICA alumni are welcome to continue using the Decker Library on site, and can obtain borrowing priveleges for an annual fee of $25.00. Alumni can borrow a maximum of five items at a time. Unfortunately alumni are not permitted to use remote access to databases, nor to use interlibrary loan. However, please note that most public libraries will provide interlibrary loan service to their registered patrons as well as provide remote access to their subscription databases.

      For more information go to our Alumni page.