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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

High school research at UMW

A guide to the UMW Libraries for high school students


Thousands of books on shelves in Simpson Library

Simpson library has more than 300,000 books in print, and more than 400,000 e-books.


To find books, use Quest. Quest is a search tool that searches the UMW Libraries' physical and electronic collections.

  • To find all books, including e-books, search in Quest and then and look for "Resource Type" in the left-hand column. Click Resource Type, then click Books.
  • To find only physical books, search in Quest and then check the box labeled "Available in the Library."

Locating books on the shelves

When you find a physical book in Quest, write down its call number, and then go to the shelves.

Books are shelved according to the Library of Congress Classification System. In this system, the library is divided into twenty-one broad subject areas, each of which is assigned one letter of the alphabet.

To use call numbers, read them from the top down.

A label on the spine of a book, displaying the call number PR 8875 .P46 1999

For example, here's how you'd find this book:

  • First, follow the alphabet to the PR section of the library, which is part of the larger P section.
  • Next, within the PR section, look in numerical order for 8875.
  • Next, within the books numbered 8875, look in alphabetical and numerical order for .P46.
  • (1999 is the year the book was published.)

Checking out books

We invite AP and IB teachers to provide us with lists of enrolled students in AP or IB classes. Students: if your teacher has given us a list of names, and your name is on the list, you ;may apply for a Guest Patron card and check out books.

  • Up to five books at a time may be checked out.
  • The loan period is 35 days. Books may be renewed up to three times. To renew a book, call the Simpson Circulation Desk at 540-654-1125, or send an email to Our staff can renew the book for you, or create a password that lets you login to your online account and renew books yourself.
  • Guest patrons may not check out DVDs, microforms, current periodicals, reserve materials, electronic equipment, or reference books.
  • Guest patron cards do not grant access to UMW library databases.
  • Cards issued to high school students expire at the end of the school year.
  • Applicants who are younger than eighteen must provide the name of their school and the name of their teacher, and the teacher must agree to serve as a point of contact.

For complete information about Guest Patron cards, see this page.

If you don't want to get a Guest Patron card, you still have several options for using UMW library books:

  • Scanning/photocopying. The library has book scanners and photocopiers. Scanning is free. Photocopies are 10 cents per page (cash only).

A large book scanner, controlled by a touchscreen