How do I find a book on the shelf?

Reading a Call Number

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. Call numbers appear on the spine of books, bound periodicals, etc.  Emmanuel College uses the Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subjects.

 

Read a call number by sections, line-by-line: 

The first line may begin with one, two, or three letters, read alphabetically:

NA 
 
before
ND
 

The second line is made of a number that may have one or more digits. This line is read numerically, as a whole number:

ND
987
before
ND
1001

The third line is the trickiest part of the call number!  The letter is shelved alphabetically, and the number following the letter is treated as if it were preceded by a decimal:

N
3526
.B69
1999
before
N
3526
.C22
1999

Since the numbers of the third line are read as decimal numbers, these examples are in correct call number order:

NB413
.P441
1997
before
NB413
.P68
1997
before
NB413
.P7
1997
before
NB413
.P754
1997

This makes sense if you read the numbers as decimals!

0.441 
before
0.68 
before
0.7 
before
0.754 

The final lines of the call numbers may include dates, volume indicators, issue numbers, copy numbers, and other annotations. These annotations are read after the call number.

Check out the FAQ page on the Library’s website for more information on reading call numbers.

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