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Understanding Call Numbers  

This guide explains the Library of Congress (LC) Classification System.
Last Updated: May 14, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

LC Call Numbers Print Page

How are items organized?

LSSC libraries, like many academic libraries in the U. S., use the Library of Congress Classification System to assign call numbers to most library materials. Call numbers are similar to an address. They help you find a book on the shelf.


What is the purpose of call numbers?

The call number is made up of a series of letters and numbers that arrange materials by subject. They provide the location or address for the item and can be written from top-to-bottom or from left-to-right.




on the spine in the online catalog

How do you read call numbers?

The first two lines divide the items into 21 general categories, using all letters except I, O, W, X and Y. The third line represents the author's last name. The last line is the date of publication.


How do call numbers appear on the shelf?

Call numbers are arranged line by line and in alphabetical order.


Why is this important?

Although the best way to locate items is to search the online catalog for specific call numbers, similar subjects may be found by browsing the shelves. For example, below are several education titles on the same shelf.


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