Understanding Library of Congress Call Numbers  

The materials in the UFV Library are arranged according to the Library of Congress Classification System, an alphanumeric system which groups books by subject categories or classes.

What is the purpose of call numbers?

Each book, videotape, or audiotape has a unique call number, which provides an address or location for the item, and also provides valuable information about it, such as the subject, first letter of the author's last name, and date of publication.

Call numbers appear:


Each item has its own unique call number which is taped to the lower outside edge of the book's spine. A book's call number also appears in the catalogue entry in WebCat, the online catalogue which lists the holdings of the UFV Libraries. Note that the same call number can be written from top-to-bottom, or from left-to-right.

How to read a call number?

The Library of Congress Classification System uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials on library shelves by subject. Each class is identified by a letter. Classes are broken down into subclasses by adding more letters and then further divided by numbers.


How are call numbers arranged on the shelf?

Call numbers are arranged line by line, just as they are read, starting with the letter or letters in alphabetical order.


What do the parts of the call number mean?

The first sections of a call number represent the subject of the item. The letter and decimal section of the call number often represent the author's last name. The last section of a call number is often the date of publication.


Browsing the shelves.

The best way to locate materials by subject is to search the online catalogue and then note the call number for each retrieved item. Browsing the shelves can also help you locate material appropriate for your topic. Books are organized by subject, so you can often find several useful books on the same shelf or nearby. For example, within the subject classification LB 2395, there may be several guides on how to study.

Text and images on this page were adapted from Honolulu Community College's Understanding Call Numbers and from Kansas State University's Understanding Library of Congress Call Numbers.

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