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SHB Information Literacy Guide: Finding Books

Finding Books in Search@UW

Requesting a Book or Media

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Reading a Call Number

Books on the shelf are organized by Call Number, which is like the book’s address.  

First, look at the letter or letters at the beginning of the call number.  The letter line is like the city name in an address—a general area that is shared by many books.


Books with the single letter “L” are located before books with two letters, such as “LA.”

Next, look at the number immediately below the letter line.  The number line is like the street name in an address—an area that can be shared with a few books.

The numbers are read as whole numbers and arranged in numerical order. 

Finally, look at the combination letter/number line. This line is like the house number in an address—only one book will have this complete call number, unless there are multiple copies of the same book.

  This combination line is read first by letter and then by number as a decimal.