Call Numbers – What They Are & How to Use Them

Call Numbers – What They Are & How to Use Them

 

A call number is the address of an item on the library shelves. The Eliot D. Pratt Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System (LC) for its collections. LC is subject-based, arranging items by their primary subject.

While there are always some exceptions to the rules, this tutorial will cover what you’re seeing most of the time. Remember, you can always ask the library staff for help understanding or finding items on the shelf.

Here is a brief video on call numbers:

This video was not made by us, so the online catalog and specific locations are different than what you will see, but the basic idea is the same.

Reading Call Numbers – Line by Line

The First Line – General Subject by Letters

LC is broken into 21 general subjects represented by letters. This allows libraries to classify and arrange larger collections by the main subject matter of the text.

A – General Works
B – Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
C – Auxiliary sciences of history
D – World History
EF – History of the Americas
G – Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
H – Social Sciences
J – Political Science
K – Law
L – Education
M – Music and Books on Music
N – Fine Arts
P – Language and Literature
Q – Science
R – Medicine
S – Agriculture
T – Technology
U – Military Science
V – Naval Science
Z – Bibliography. Library Science

LC then breaks into more specific subjects by the addition of 1-2 letters. For the most common LC subject breakdowns, see the list at the bottom of this page or the posters at the end of the stacks in the library.

These are read in alphabetical order, where L comes before LA, which comes before LC, which all comes before M.

The Second Line – Specific Subject by Numbers

LC is hierarchical, using numbers up to four digits in length (1-9999), sometimes with several decimal places, to drill down to the most specific subject. For example:

    • LC call numbers beginning with L deal with Education
    • LC call numbers beginning with LB deal with Theory & Practice of Education
    • LC call numbers in the LB 51-885 range deal with Systems of Individual Educators & Writers
    • LC call numbers in the LB 880-885 range deal with the period 1951-present
    • LC call numbers in LB 880 deal with Educators Outside the US
    • The LC call number for Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire is: LB880.F73 P4313 2002

These are read in simple numerical order, where 7 comes before 70, which comes before 700, which comes before 7000.

The Third Line – Author coded by Letters & Numbers

LC always includes a code representing the author. This part of the call number begins with a decimal and the first letter of the author’s surname followed by numbers representing some of the subsequent letters, for example:

    • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire is: LB880.F73 P4313 2002

These are read first in alphabetical and then in decimal order, where .O9615 comes before .P9615 and where .P9615comes before .P962

The Fourth Line – Title coded by Letters & Numbers

LC sometimes includes a code representing the title, especially in areas where there may be many titles by the same author. This part of the call number begins with the first letter of the title – excluding A, An, The, etc. – followed by numbers representing some of the subsequent letters, for example:

    • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire is: LB880.F73 P4313 2002

These are read first in alphabetical and then in decimal order (even though the decimal is usually not present), where O9615 comes before P9615 and where P9615 comes before P962

The Fifth Line – Year of Publication

LC usually includes a year of publication. This is almost always present on newer titles, but sometimes absent on older materials

    • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire is: LB880.F73 P4313 2002

These are read by oldest to newest, where LB880.F73 P4313 comes before LB880.F73 P4313 1993, which comes before LB880.F73 P4313 2002

Other Lines – Locations, copies, volumes, etc.

Information that precedes the LC Call Number is included by the library to help you find what you’re looking for when items are not shelved in the main collection with the bulk of our print books. For instance, we’ll add something like DVD before the call number if it’s a video or REF if it’s a Reference item.

Information that follows the LC Call Number can vary. It may be volume, issue, or copy number to let you find the exact item you’re looking for without having to pull it off the shelf. It may also be location information, like Special Collection, to let you know it’s not shelved with the main collection.

Reading Call Numbers – All Together Now!

Call numbers are read from left to right and from top to bottom. In the catalog, a call number is written out all on one line but on the item it is displayed in a column, as below. This is so it will fit on the item’s spine whenever possible and be visible when shelved. This is called a spine label. Call numbers are read the same way whether they’re all on one line or in a column. For example:

One line, as in the catalog: LB880.F73 P4313 2002

In a column, as on a spine label:

LB
880
.F73
P4313
2002
REF
LB
880
.F73
P4313
2002
LB
880
.F73
P4313
2002
copy 5

Always remember to note the location and availability of an item before you go looking for it. If an item is checked out, missing, or on display, the catalog will tell you so under the item record.

Library of Congress Classification System

This is a basic outline of the LC General Subjects. For a more specific list, check out the Library of Congress Classification Outline. This may be helpful in cases where further breakdown of subjects, for instance by time period, is not obvious and you want to be able to browse more efficiently.

Primary Class:
A | B | C | D | E-F | G | H | J | K | L | M |
N | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | Z |

-A-

General Works

ACCollections. Series. Collected Works
AEEncyclopedias
AGDictionaries and other general reference works
AIIndexes
AMMuseums. Collectors and collecting
ANNewspapers
APPeriodicals
ASAcademics and learned societies
AYYearbooks. Almanacs. Directories
AZHistory of scholarship and learning. The humanities
Top

-B-

Philosophy, Psychology, Religion

BPhilosophy (General)
BCLogic
BDSpeculative philosophy
BFPsychology
BHAesthetics
BJEthics
BLReligions. Mythology. Rationalism
BMJudaism
BPIslam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc.
BQBuddhism
BRChristianity
BSThe Bible
BTDoctrinal Theology
BVPractical Theology
BXChristian Denominations
Top

-C-

Auxiliary sciences of History

CAuxiliary sciences of history (General)
CBHistory of Civilization
CCArchaeology
CDDiplomatics. Archives. Seals
CETechnical chronology. Calendar
CJNumismatics
CNInscriptions. Epigraphy
CRHeraldry
CSGenealogy
CTBiography
Top

-D-

World History

DHistory
DAGreat Britain
DAWCentral Europe
DBAustria – Liechtenstein – Hungary – Czechoslovakia
DCFrance – Andorra – Monaco
DDGermany
DEGreco-Roman World
DFGreece
DGItaly – Malta
DHLow Countries – Benelux Countries
DJNetherlands (Holland)
DJKEastern Europe (General)
DKRussia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics – Poland
DLNorthern Europe. Scandinavia
DPSpain – Portugal
DQSwitzerland
DRBalkan Peninsula
DSAsia
DTAfrica
DUOceania (South Seas)
DXGypsies
Top

-E-F-

History of the Americas

E 11-143America
E 151-889United States
F 1-975United States local history
F 1001-1145.2British America (including Canada). Dutch America
F 1170French America
F 1201-3799Latin America. Spanish America
Top

-G-

Geography, Anthropology, Recreation

GGeography (General). Atlases. Maps
GAMathematical geography. Cartography
GBPhysical geography
GCOceanography
GFHuman ecology. Anthropogeography
GNAnthropology
GRFolklore
GTManners and customs (General)
GVRecreation. Leisure
Top

-H-

Social Sciences

HSocial Sciences (General)
HAStatistics
HBEconomic theory. Demography
HC-HDEconomic history and conditions
HETransportation and communications
HFCommerce
HGFinance
HJPublic Finance
HMSociology (General and Theoretical)
HNSocial history. Social problems. Social reform
HQThe family. Marriage. Women
HSSocieties: Secret, benevolent, etc.
HTCommunities. Classes. Races.
HVSocial Pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
HXSocialism. Communism. Anarchism
Top

-J-

Political Science

JGeneral legislative and executive papers
JAPolitical science (General)
JCPolitical theory
JFPolitical institutions and public administration
JJPolitical institutions and public administration (North America)
JKPolitical institutions and public administration (United States)
JLPolitical institutions and public administration (Canada, Latin America, etc.)
JNPolitical institutions and public administration (Europe)
JQPolitical institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.)
JSLocal government. Municipal government
JVColonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
JX (obsolete)International Law, see JZ and KZ
JZInternational relations
Top

-K-

Law

KLaw in general. Comparative and uniform law. Jurisprudence
KBReligious laws in general. Comparative religious law. Jurisprudence
KBMJewish law
KBPIslamic law
KBRHistory of canon law
KBSCanon law of Eastern churches
KBULaw of the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy See
KD-KDKUnited Kingdom and Ireland
KDZAmerica. North America
KECanada
KFUnited States
KGLatin America – Mexico and Central America – West indies. Caribbean area
KHsouth America
KJ-KKZEurope
KL-KWXAsia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, and Antarctica
KZLaw of nations
Top

-L-

Education

LEducation (General)
LAHistory of education
LBTheory and practice of education
LCSpecial aspects of education
LDIndividual institutions – United States
LEIndividual institutions – America (except United States)
LFIndividual institutions – Europe
LGIndividual institutions – Asia, Africa, Indian Ocean islands, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands
LHCollege and school magazines and papers
LJStudent fraternities and societies, United States
LTTextbooks
Top

-M-

Music and Books on Music

MMusic
MLLiterature of music
MTMusical instruction and study
Top

-N-

Fine Arts

NVisual Arts
NAArchitecture
NBSculpture
NCDrawing. Design. Illustration
NDPainting
NEPrint media
NKDecorative arts
NXArts in general
Top

-P-

Language and Literature

PPhilology. Linguistics
PAGreek language and literature. Latin language and literature
PBModern languages. Celtic languages
PCRomanic languages
PDGermanic languages. Scandinavian languages
PEEnglish language
PFWest Germanic languages
PGSlavic languages. Baltic languages. Albanian language
PHUralic languages. Basque language
PJOriental languages and literatures
PKIndo-Iranian languages and literatures
PLLanguages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
PMHyperborean, Indian, and artificial languages
PNLiterature (General)
PQFrench literature – Italian literature – Spanish literature – Portugese literature
PREnglish literature
PSAmerican literature
PTGerman literature – Dutch literature – Flemish literature since 1830 Afrikaans literature – Scandinavian literature – Old Norse literature: Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian – Modern Icelandic literature – Faroese literature – Danish literature – Norwegian literature – Swedish literature
PZFiction and juvenile belles lettres
Top

-Q-

Science

QScience (General)
QAMathematics
QBAstronomy
QCPhysics
QDChemistry
QEGeology
QHNatural history – Biology
QKBotany
QLZoology
QMHuman anatomy
QPPhysiology
QRMicrobiology
Top

-R-

Medicine

RMedicine (General)
RAPublic aspects of medicine
RBPathology
RCInternal medicine
RDSurgery
REOphthalmology
RFOtorhinolaryngology
RGGynecology and obstetrics
RJPediatrics
RKDentistry
RLDermatology
RMTherapeutics. Pharmacology
RSPharmacy and materia medica
RTNursing
RVBotanic, Thomsonian, and eclectic medicine
RXHomeopathy
RZOther systems of medicine
Top

-S-

Agriculture

SAgriculture (General)
SBPlant culture
SDForestry
SFAnimal culture
SHAquaculture. Fisheries. Angling
SKHunting sports
Top

-T-

Technology

TTechnology (General)
TAEngineering (General). Civil engineering
TCHydraulic engineering. Ocean engineering
TDEnvironmental technology. Sanitary engineering
TEHighway engineering. Roads and pavements
TFRailroad engineering and operation
TGBridge engineering
THBuilding construction
TJMechanical engineering and machinery
TKElectrical engineering. Electronics. Nuclear engineering
TLMotor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
TNMining engineering. Metallurgy
TPChemical technology
TRPhotography
TSManufactures
TTHandicrafts. Arts and crafts
TXHome economics. Cookbooks
Top

-U-

Military Science

UMilitary science (General)
UAArmies: Organization, description, military situation
UBMilitary administration
UCMaintenance and transportation
UDInfantry
UECavalry. Armor
UFArtillery
UGMilitary Engineering. Air forces
UHOther services
Top

-V-

Naval Science

VNaval science (General)
VANavies: Organization, description, naval situation
VBNaval administration
VCNaval maintenance
VDNaval seamen
VEMarines
VFNaval ordinance
VGMinor services of the navies
VKNavigation. Merchant marine
VMNaval architecture. Shipbuilding. Marine engineering
Top

-Z-

Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources (General)

ZBooks (General). Writing. Paleography. Book industries and trade. Libraries. Bibliography
ZAInformation resources (General)
Top

 

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