How To Read Call Numbers
Books and periodicals in the Library are arranged by the Library of Congress Call Number Classification System. Books are arranged according to the following categories.
The Anne Springs Close Online Library Catalog includes records for all the Library’s 25,000 print resources. It may be searched by author, title, subject, and keyword. Patrons also have remote access to the catalog. Additionally, the patron may choose to search all of South Carolina’s technical college libraries.
Students who cannot locate needed resources using these catalogs may choose to search PASCAL or WorldCat and request materials on interlibrary loan. WorldCat is a worldwide catalog of over one billion items held in more than 10,000 libraries.
Each book in the Library of Congress System has a unique call number (address).
Understanding Call Numbers: Have you ever wondered how library books 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 which provides valuable information about the book? This page will provide an introduction to understanding and using library call numbers.
Each book in the library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address: it tells us where the book is located in the library. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subjects.
Call numbers appear like this, from top to bottom, on the spines of books:
And like this, from left to right, in the online catalog:
RA1258 .M66 2008
Read a call number by sections, line-by-line. Each section is part of the "code". For example: RA1258 .M66 2008
§ RA -- Read the first line in alphabetical order:
A, B, BF, C, D ... L, LA, LB, LC, M, ML ...
§ 1258-- Read the second line as a whole number:
1, 2, 3, ...45, ...100, 101, ... 1000, ... 2000, ...2430, 2431, 2432
§ .M66 -- The third line is a combination of a letter and numbers.
§ Read the letter alphabetically: A, B, C, D, E, ... Y, Z
§ Read the letter as a decimal.
e.g. .C65 = .65
e.g. .C724 = .724
§ 2008 -- This is the year the book was published.
Chronological order:, 1999, 2003, 2008, ...
Putting Call Numbers in Shelf Order: To understand how call numbers are put in order in Library of Congress Classification look at each section of a call number. These call numbers are in the correct order:
- RA2301 .M37
- RC2327 .M3
- RC2327 .V53 1999
- RC2328 .B37
- RC2328 .C34
- RC2328 .C55
- RC2328 .C554 2013
- RC2395 .C65 2003
- RC2395 .C65 2008
Do you see why the call numbers were arranged in this order? Shelf-order can be confusing at first. Here is the same list of call numbers, with explanations of how they were put in order:
- RA2301 .M37
- RC2327 .M3 (RC comes after RA)
- RC2327 .V53 1990 (Both start with RC2327, V comes after M)
- RC2328 .B37 (2328 comes after 2327)
- RC2328 .C34 (C comes after B)
- RC2328 .C55 (Both start with RC2328 .C, decimal .55 comes after .34)
- RC2328 .C554 1999(Decimal .554 comes after .55)
- RC2395 .C65 2003 (Decimal .65 comes after .554, because 6 comes after 5)
- RC2395 .C65 2008 (Same call numbers except for date: 2008 comes after 2003)
What does the call number mean? Remember that Library of Congress Classification arranges materials by subjects. The first sections of the call number represent the subject of the book. The letter-and-decimal section of the call number often represents the author's last name. And, as you recall, the last section of a call number is often the date of publication.
Title: Poisons on our plates : the real food safety problem in the United States
Author: Michele Morrone.
Call number: RA
Let's crack the code by examining the sections of this call number:
§ RA1258 = subject of the book:
§ .M66 =, the author's last name
§ 2008 = the publication year
Why is this important to know? Because books are classified by subject, you can often find several helpful books on the same shelf, or nearby.