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 will provide an introduction to understanding and using library call numbers.
Note: this page relies upon a series of graphics. If your Web browser does not support graphics or tables, please use our text-only version of "Understanding 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.
Call numbers appear
Note that the same call number can be written from top-to-bottom, or left-to-right.
Like many academic libraries in the U.S., we use Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subjects.
To understand how call numbers are put in order in Library of Congress Classification, again look at each section of the call number.
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.
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 the LCSC Library. Some call numbers, however, are preceded by a location prefix.
Location prefixes mean that book is shelved in a special place, and may have loan restrictions. LCSC Library uses the following location prefixes:
|Prefix||Collection||LCSC Library Location||Loan Period|
|[Blank]||Circulating Collection||2nd floor||4-week loan|
|AudCD||Audio Visual Collection (CD)||1st floor||2-week loan|
|CLC||Children's Literature Collection||2nd floor||4-week loan|
|Curr||Curriculum Collection (K-12 textbooks)||2nd floor||4-week loan|
|DVD||Audio Visual Collection||1st floor||2-week loan|
|GovDocs||Government Documents Collection||1st floor||Library-use only|
|IdDocs||Idaho State Government Documents||1st floor||Library-use only|
|LCSC Reserve Desk||Reserve Book set aside for a class||1st floor, Circulation Counter||Set by instructor|
|Oversize||Oversize -- a big book!||2nd floor, after the Z Call Numbers||4-week loan|
|Pleasure Reading||Popular Fiction & Non-Fiction||1st floor||4-week loan|
|PNW||Pacific Northwest Collection||1st floor||4-week loan|
|Ref||Reference Collection||1st floor||Library-use only|
|VidCs||Audio Visual Collection (VHS Video)||1st floor||2-week loan|
For more information about call numbers and finding library materials, ask your librarian.
Return to the Module 1A Main Page
Last updated 08/23/2013
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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