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Understanding Call Numbers: Home

Classification Types

Library of Congress Classification Sheet

Understanding How to Read a Call Number

Have you ever wondered how books in the Eva B. Dykes Library 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 that provides valuable information about the book?


  • What are call numbers for? 
    Each book in the Library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address in that it tells you where the book is located in the Library.


  • Call numbers appear...

on the spine of the book

in the Online Catalog


LB2395 .C65 1991


  • Reading call numbers:
    Our Library, like many academic libraries in the United States, uses the Library of Congress classification system for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subject.


Read the first line in alphabetical order


Read the second line as a whole number


Read the third line first alphabetically, then as a decimal number


This is the year that the book was published


  • What does the call number mean? 
    The Library of Congress classification system arranges materials by subject. The first sections of the call number represent the subject of the book. The letter and decimal section of the call number represent the author's last name. The last section is the year the book was published, but not all books will have this included in the call number.

Handout borrowed with permission from LaSierra University

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