How to Read a Call Number

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Each book in the library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address: it identifies where the book is located in the library. Call numbers appear on the spine of books, bound periodicals, microfilm, and other items.  The UCR Library uses the Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subjects, and may appear in two different formats as seen below.

HD98    
C2  
1999
 
  is the same as     

HD
98       
 
.C2  
1999

Read a call number by sections, line-by-line:

The first part of a call number contains letters. These letters are read alphabetically:

H      

      

before

HA

         

before

HD   

 


The second part of the call number contains numbers which are read as a whole number:

HD98  
 

 

    before    

HD
100    

 

   before   

HD115 
 

 

   before   

HD
204     

 


This second part of the call number may also contain a decimal component:
 

HD98.55

 

               

HD
98.78  
 

 

              

HD98.79

 


     


The third part is the trickiest part of all.  It consists of a single letter and then a sequence of numbers.  Items are placed first in alphabetical order by the letter, then numerically according to the sequence of numbers.   However, all numbers in this line are treated as if they were preceded by a decimal:

HD98 
B69
 



 

                 

HD
98 
.C2   
 

 

                 

HD98 
C215
 


 

              

HD
98
.C25 
 

 


This makes sense if you read the numbers as decimals, because:

C 
0.200

before
C 
0.215
before
C  
0.250

The final lines of the call number may include dates, volume indicators, issue numbers, copy numbers, and other annotations. These annotations are read after the call number.  Be sure to write down the COMPLETE call number!

           

HD8039
S52B485
2005
      

      

before

HD
8039
.S53
2002
c.2   
    

before

HD8039
S53H27
1999
v.1
   
    

Location Prefixes
Some call numbers are preceded by a location prefix indicating that the item is shelved in a specific location and may have loan restrictions. For example:

Ref - Reference item located on the Reference shelves on the 1st floor.

Oversize - Large or oversized items shelved in the Oversize sections on each floor.


 

Last modified: 7/18/2014 5:47 PM by S. Mandeville-Gamble