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FOX ENG101: Finding Books On The Shelf

Learning Call Numbers

Call numbers are meant to be read - treat them like an address when trying to locate a book or other material on the shelves. Call numbers are usually located on the spine of a book, or the front cover in the upper left-hand corner.

An example:


What do these letters and numbers mean?

  • PS3200- the subject area where the book is located
    • PS is located alphabetically between PR and PT
    • 3200 is read as a whole number, and is located between 3199 and 3201
  • .P82- additional information about the book, sometimes more than one line
    • .P is located alphabetically between .O and .Q
    • A dot or period is located at the beginning of this number set
    • 82 is read as a decimal number, and is located between .P819 and .P821
  • 2008- year of publication

Therefore, this call number would appear in progression as:

PS3200     PS3200     PS3200
.M435       .P82         .T908
1998         2008        2003

Reading a Call Number

This 3 minute video, from the University of Arkansas Library, goes through the process of reading a call number.  It's well worth your time if you don't know how to find a book in the library.