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How to Read Library Call Numbers: How to Read an LC Call Number

This guide will explain how to read a Library of Congress (LC) call number and a Dewey Decimal call number.

Reading a Library of Congress Call Number

How to find a book in the Main Stacks

Most books in the Belk Library are arranged by Library of Congress (LC) call number as a means to group like subjects together on the shelves.  Each book has a unique identification number (or shelf address), usually found on the spine of the book.  In the ASU Main Stacks, you will find the LC Call numbers A-J on the 2nd floor and K-Z on the 3rd floor.

This is what you see when you find a book in the library catalog:

This is what you see when you find a book in APPSearch:

This is how the LC Call number looks on the book spine:

R
853
.A53
W47
2001

 

Reading an LC Call Number

When you are looking for a book, always start with the top line of the call number.  Remember, books are arranged alphabetically; for example, all BR numbers are together, after BP and before BS, and all B’s come after all combinations of A and before all combinations of C.

B . . . BP, BR, BS, . . . C, CA, CB . . . 

The first part of the call number contains letters.  These letters are read alphabetically:

H      HA      HD

The second part of the call number contains numbers which are read as a whole number:

HD     HD     HD     HD
98     100     115     204

The second part of the call number may also contain a decimal component:

HD          HD          HD         
98.55       98.78      98.79

The third part consists of a single letter and then a sequence of numbers.  Items are first placed in alphabetical order by letter, and then numerically according to the sequence of numbers.  All the numbers in this line are treated as if they were preceded by a decimal:

HD          HD          HD          HD
98           98           98           98
.B69        .C2         .C215       .C25

The final line of the call number may include dates, volume, issue numbers, copy numbers:

HD                       HD
8039                    8039
.S52                    .S53
2002                    .H27
c.2                       v.1