Call Numbers

Understanding Call Numbers

A call number is the address of
the book in the library collection.

Here are some examples:
 
QE
352
B64
1999
TK
7872
F5
H797
1993
RC
41
G35
1999
v.4
LB
2825
S58
Suppl.

Reading Call Numbers

  1. The first line of a call number may begin with one, two, or three letters. These letters should be read alphabetically. A call number that begins with A is shelved before one that begins with B, C, etc.; and a call number that begins with QE is located somewhere before the one that starts with QL.
    QE


    before
    QL
  2. The second line of a call number is made of a number that may have one or more digits. This line is read numerically. A call number with a smaller number in its second line is placed before one that has a larger number for its second line:
    HD
    987


    before
    HD
    1001
  3. The third line is the trickiest part of the call number: The letter is shelved alphabetically, and the number following the letter is treated as if it were preceded by a decimal. Thus:
    QE
    352
    B64
    1999


    before
    QE
    352
    C85
    1999
    But, the tricky part of the 3rd line of the call number is that its numerical component is read as a decimal number. Thus, these examples are in correct call number order:
    QE
    352
    C444
    1999


    before
    QE
    352
    C64
    1999


    before
    QE
    352
    C7
    1999


    before
    QE
    352
    C754
    1999
    This makes sense if you read the numbers as decimals!
    0.444 before 0.64 before 0.7 before 0.754
  4. The final lines of the call numbers may include dates, volume indicators, issue numbers, copy numbers, and other annotations such as supplement or index specifiers. These annotations are read after the call number.

If you still can't find the book you want, please ask for help at the Reference Desk, Library North, 1st floor.