Skip to main content

SHB ENG101: Finding books on the shelf

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.   

Browsing encouraged!

Call numbers classify books by subject and can help you to locate additional resources.  Browsing the shelf where you found one book can lead to finding others on the same subject.

What does the call number mean?