Have you ever wondered how library books are assigned their places on the shelves? Did you know that the call number -- the number placed on the spine of the book -- is a code which provides valuable information about the book? This page provides an introduction to understanding and using library call numbers.
Each book in the library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address: it tells us where the book is located in the library.
LCSC Library, like many academic libraries in the U.S., uses Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subjects.
Read a call number by sections, line-by-line. Each section is part of the
To understand how call numbers are put in order in Library of Congress Classification, again look at each section of the call number. These call numbers are in the correct order:
Could you see why the call numbers were arranged in this order? Shelf-order can be confusing at first. Here is the same list of call numbers, with explanations of how they were put in order:
Remember that Library of Congress Classification arranges materials by subjects. The first sections of the call number represent the subject of the book. The letter-and-decimal section of the call number often represents the author's last name. And, as you recall, the last section of a call number is often the date of publication.
Let's crack the code by examining the sections of this call number:
Because books are classified by subject, you can often find several helpful books on the same shelf, or nearby. For example, within the same call number LB2395, there are other guides for college study.
Since Library of Congress Classification arranges materials by subjects, knowing the letter(s) for your subject area gives you a place to start browsing the shelves. Which letters represent your subject? View the Library of Congress Classification Table.
When a call number looks like the examples above, (e.g. LB2395 .C65 1991),
the book is shelved on the second floor of LCSC Library. Some call numbers,
however, are preceded by a location prefix.
A location prefix means that book is part of a special collection, is shelved in a special place, and may have loan restrictions. LCSC Library uses the following location prefixes:
Prefix LCSC Library Location / Loan Period
[Blank] Circulating Collection. 2nd floor. 4-week loan OVERSIZE Oversize -- a big book. 2nd floor, after the Z Call Numbers. 4-week loan CLC Children's Literature Collection. 2nd floor. 4-week loan Curr Curriculum Collection (K-12 textbooks). 2nd floor. 4-week loan PNW Pacific Northwest Collection. 1st floor. 4-week loan REF Reference Collection. 1st floor. Library-use only GovDocs Government Documents Collection. 1st floor. Library-use only VidC's Audio Visual Collection. 1st floor. 2-week loan (Video)
AudCD Audio Visual Collection. 1st floor. 2-week loan (CD)
Desk Reserve Book set aside for a class. 1st floor, Circulation Counter. Length of loan set by instructor.
For more information about call numbers and finding library materials, ask your librarian.
Return to the Module 1A Main Page.
Last Updated 06/14/04
This page was created by Nadine Leong-Kurio for Honolulu Community College Library. It was amended to provide LCSC shelving locations in July 2002.
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