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 Understanding Call Numbers

 

Why do we use call numbers?

 

Each item in the library’s collection has a unique call number, which tells its exact location on the shelf. Our library uses the Library of Congress (LC) Classification System, which consists of a combination of letters and numbers to arrange items by subject. This means that subject-related items are shelved together. To learn more about this system and how to identify the letter(s) and numbers associated with your subject area click here or ask your librarian.

Once you identify an item’s call number and location area (Reference, Main Stacks, Children’s Library, etc.) in the library’s catalog (PILOT), you can find the item. Remember to copy the complete call number before heading off to the location area and shelves.

 

How do I read call numbers?

Call numbers appear in two formats (in several lines on the spines of books, or in a single line in the library’s catalog) and are read from top to bottom or left to right, as shown below:

 

Call Number Example

 

 

A sample "shelf" of books to consider

 

BE

22

L678

2001

BF

131

G29

1950

HV

8141

C67

2009

QR

76

G38

1965

Vol.1

QR

76

G38

1965

Vol.2

RT

41

L728

1998

 

When reading call numbers, consider each line before moving on to the next line.

 

1st Line A before B before HA before QT before RM BE BE HA
2nd Line 1 before 2 before 100 before 101 before 500 (Read as a whole number) 22 22 41
3rd Line This line is a combination of letters & numbers. Read the letter first and then the number following as a decimal L56=.56 L65=.65 L678 L68 T6543
4th Line This is the year the book was published 2001 2001 1965

 

Joby Topper
Technical Services Librarian, Stevenson Library, LHUP


Adapted from the Tarleton State University Libraries LC Classification & Call Numbers

 

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