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Literature, Creative Writing, & Literary Criticism: Literature (Poetry, Drama, & Fiction)

This guide will help you find British, American, and English-language literary texts, creative writing resources, and literary criticism on authors or literary works in books, reference book entries, and journal articles available from the OSU Library.

Literature (Poetry, Drama, & Prose) in Books

Literature in located on the 4th floor of the OSU Edmon Low Library in the 800s call number range.  The Dewey Decimal call numbers are organized by nationality and genre, and then works by and about an author are in alphabetical order using an alpha-numeric code to give each book a unique spot on the shelf. 

American literature is in the 810s:  811 poetry; 812 drama; and 813 fiction.  British literature is in the 820s:  821 poetry, 822 drama (with Shakespeare having his own call number, 822.33), and 823 fiction.  Although the Library collection is quite large, you can use the call number ranges to find books by and about an author.  For example, books by and about the American poet Robert Frost are start with the call number 811 F939, and then have additional letters or numbers for specific books after the F939. 

Literature in other languages is organized in a similar fashion (830s for German literature, 840s for French literature, 860s for Spanish-language literature, etc.).

Finding Literature with Big Orange Search System (BOSS)

To search for books of poetry, drama, and fiction (primary literary texts) at the OSU Library using BOSS book search, go to the OSU Library homepage and first select the Books radio button on the orange search in the middle of the page. 

Then type in the name of title of the work, if you are looking for a specific piece.  Titles of individual poems, plays, or short stories might be listed in the notes in the Library catalog record, but you might have use one of the reference sources listed on the Reference Books/E-Books tab of this guide to find them in a collection or anthology. Click on the search button, and the work should come up in the results.

If you are looking for works by a specific author, type in the author's name (for example, Maya Angelou), and on the results screen look for the name under Author on the left-hand column to refine the search; this will eliminate books about an author (i.e., criticism) and will only bring up books by a specific author.

Genre names such as poetry, fiction, and drama are occasionally used as subject headings, but mostly with books published in the last 20 years.  They will appear under Subjects on the search refinements on the left-hand side of the results page.

For broad searches of poetry (or another genre) without specifying an author of title, you search for "Poems" because many poetry collections will have that term in the title or contents.  Below is an example of a broad search for poetry books in BOSS with tips on how to narrow it down.


WorldCat (for books or media, not articles) is a catalog database of library holdings worldwide.  Use it to search for books NOT necessarily at the OSU Library.  Use the "Borrow from another library" link when viewing a book/media record to access the Interlibary Services loan form to request the book from other libraries; that service is free to OSU students, faculty, and staff, but the other library determines how long you can keep the item.