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Book Searching: Call Numbers

Tutorial for Book Searching

Call Numbers

Call numbers are addresses which help us locate materials in the library. The call number assigned to an item indicates its subject matter, author and title.

An Academic Institution such as Queens College uses the Library of Congress (LC) system.

In this section you will learn about the call number system, how to find a book by call number and how books are shelved.

How to Read Call Numbers

Line 1: Alphabetical order
A, B, C, D, DA, DB, DB, etc.
Line 2: Numerical order
1,2, 3, 4, 1000, 2000, 3000, etc.
Line 3: Letters in alpha order, numbers in decimal order
Example: .A2 goes before .A23 but after .A12
Line 4: Chronological order
1992, 1995, 1999, 2001, etc.

What Does it Mean?

Books on the shelves are arranged by the Library of Congress Classification System — a system used by most academic libraries. Every combination of numbers and letters defines a subject. For example, if you browse the N section every book with this call number is about Art.

  • The first line of a call number contains 1, 2, or 3 letters, which broadly define the subject area. For example: K - law in general, KF - law of the United States.
  • The second line of the call number is a number, which further defines the subject. For example: books with the call number QE534.2 (Q is science) are about “Earthquakes, Seismology -- General Works -- 1970 to Present.”

Library of Congress Classification Chart

A General Works
B Philosophy and Religion
BF Psychology
C History
D History (Old World)
DA Great Britain
DS Asia
DT Africa
E American History (U.S.)
F American History (Local and Canada, Mexico and Latin America)
G Geography, Anthropology, and Folklore
GV Sports
H Social Science
HF Commerce
HQ Family, Marriage, Home
HV Social Problems
J Political Science
JK United States
K Law
L Education
M Music
ML Literature of Music
N Fine Arts
P Language and Literature
PQ Romance Literature
PS American Literature
Q Science
QA Mathematics
QM Human Anatomy
R Medicine
S Agriculture
T Technology
U Military Science
V Naval Science
Z Bibliography and Library Science