A Call Number...
Most academic libraries, like the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, use the Library of Congress Classification System when assigning call numbers to books and other items. This is also referred to as LC Classification. This organization system may be different from what you have encountered at public libraries, which use the Dewey Decimal System.
Intrigued? See a list of the letters and titles of the main classes of the Library of Congress Classification here. Click on any class to view an outline of its subclasses.
1. Find the item Call Number
When you find the online record from the Library catalog for a print book or other physical item, there are three parts to note. They include the following:
Keep in mind that if a record says 'Reference Main Stacks' before the call number it can be accessed in the library but cannot leave the library.
Based on the example record above you would know to go to the Upper Level of the Library (top floor).
2. Find the item on the shelf by going to the level of the library where the item is located (see example above for how the item record indicates the location).
The library's collection is shelved on all three levels of the building. It is organized on the following levels and can also be seen on our floor plan:
Reference Books: Non-circulating materials for quick reference that are meant to be used in the library. Select pages can be scanned or photocopied too.
3. Find the shelving row (referred to as a "stack" or "stacks") using the unique call number for the item. There are signs on the ends of each row to indicate the call number range housed there. The first part of the call number is read alphabetically. Look at the box below for "How to Read a Call Number".
Call Number example as it would appear on the label spine of a book, DVD, or other item:
The first part of the call number is arranged alphabetically and tells you the subject matter. Books of the same subject can be found near each other. To find it on the library shelf, look at the signs on the end of each shelf row and locate the P section, and then the PS section within it.
You read this as a whole number and they are ordered from low to high, so 151 before 152, etc. Sometimes, you will see it placed on the same line as the starting letters. The numbers may or may not have decimal points; but when they do, treat them numerically. For example, PS1234 comes before PS1234.23 and PS1233 comes before PS1234.
This is where it starts to get tricky. Begin alphabetically, just as before. Then, begin to read it as a decimal, arranged from smallest to largest decimal. In the example above, think of it as .56. Therefore, .M6 would come after .M56, because .56 is smaller than .6.
You read this line the same as the line above it, alphabetically and as a decimal.
This number indicates the year; generally the year of publication for that particular volume.
v.1 or c.2
Sometimes after the year you see v.1, v.2, etc or c.2, c.3, etc. 'V' is for volume and is included for items that are part of a multi volume set. 'C' is for copy, which indicates which library copy it is when multiple copies are owned.
Additionally, sometimes you may see 'Ref.', 'Folio', 'Faculty', or 'Curric.' before a call number. These are collection location indicators. See the box above on this guide above for more details for a list of collections on each level of the library.
If you can't find an item, or would like assistance from a library staff member, please ask someone to help you at the Library Services & Information Desk (main floor).
Want to watch a brief video explaining how to read a call number in the Library of Congress Classification System?
Want to learn more about the individual letter ranges in the Library of Congress Classification System?