Call numbers are addresses which help us locate materials in the library. The call number assigned to an item indicates its subject matter, author and title.
In this section you will learn about the call number system, how to find a book by call number and how books are shelved.
How to Read an LC Call Number
- Line 1: Alphabetical order
- A, B, C, D, DA, DB, DB, etc.
- Line 2: Numerical order
- 1,2, 3, 4, 1000, 2000, 3000, etc.
- Line 3: Letters in alpha order, numbers in decimal order
- Example: .A2 goes before .A23 but after .A12
- Line 4: Chronological order
- 1992, 1995, 1999, 2001, etc.
What Does it Mean?
Books on the shelves are arranged by the Library of Congress Classification System — a system used by most academic libraries. Every combination of numbers and letters defines a subject. For example, if you browse the N section every book with this call number is about Art.
- The first line of a call number contains 1, 2, or 3 letters, which broadly define the subject area. For example: K - law in general, KF - law of the United States.
- The second line of the call number is a number, which further defines the subject. For example: books with the call number QE534.2 (Q is science) are about “Earthquakes, Seismology -- General Works -- 1970 to Present.”
LC Classification Chart
|B||Philosophy and Religion|
|D||History (Old World)|
|E||American History (U.S.)|
|F||American History (Local and Canada, Mexico and Latin America)|
|G||Geography, Anthropology, and Folklore|
|HQ||Family, Marriage, Home|
|ML||Literature of Music|
|P||Language and Literature|
|Z||Bibliography and Library Science|
Another useful resource is the Tutorial created by Hunter College Libraries.
For help understanding what sort of books you'll find in a given call range, please consult the Library of Congress Classification Scheme.