Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Boatwright Memorial Library

General Services Student Assistant Resources: Library of Congress Classification Training

This guide provides tips and training materials for General Services Student Assistants.

Reading Call Numbers

A call number is like an address for a book/library item. It lets you know exactly where to go find an item on the shelf and helps group items of the same subject together. Call numbers are generally made up of letters, whole numbers, decimals, and often a publication date. Occasionally, additional information such as a volume number or copy number is included as well (e.g., v. 1, v. 2, c. 1, c. 2).  

The Boatwright Memorial Library collections utilize the Library of Congress Classification System to construct and organize call numbers. The following tutorial by University Systems of Georgia provides a quick guide to reading call numbers:

The Library of Congress Classification System (LC): How to read call numbers in an academic library

It is very important to take your time when reading call numbers, especially if you have to re-shelve an item.  If you're not sure about where an item should go or cannot find an item, consult a library staff member. Don't just guess or place it randomly!

The resources below will also help you learn to accurately read call numbers:

Current Stacks Arrangement

***This will be periodically updated as the library undergoes renovations.

Level B2 - Oversize, Super Oversize, and call numbers A-Z

  • B2 Annex - Call numbers PN-Z, Periodicals, and Maps/Atlases

Level B1 - under construction Spring 2022 (houses no materials)

First Floor - Recreational Reading (including audiobooks), New Books, Reference (in Collaborative Area)

Second Floor - DVD collection, current magazines and newspapers, faculty publications, alumni publications

***CDs, some DVDs, and music-related print materials are housed in Parsons Music Library in Booker Hall. You may be required to run an errand to this location from time to time to retrieve or return items for interlibrary loan. We occasionally return items to the Law Library as well. Unsure where your errand is? Use the Campus Map or ask your supervisor/coworkers for directions.

Library of Congress Training

Below are some interactive training links and tutorials to help you sharpen your LC skills:

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS TUTORIAL - CALL NUMBER AND SHELVING (Kent State University)

LCC Basics:

  • The first line of the call number is always a letter and is filed alphabetically
  • The second line is a whole number and is filed numerically
  • The third (and sometimes 4th) line is begins with a decimal followed by a letter &a number 
  • Each item in a Cutter number should be looked at separately and numbers are treated like decimals 
  • Other lines may contain info like volume numbers, copy numbers or publication dates
  • Letters come before numbers
  • Nothing comes before something (i.e, PR1041 .C3 2012 comes before PR1041 . C3 2012 v.2)
  • No date comes before something with a date 

Misc. Classification Info

Some optional resources to help you delve deeper and understand the organization of Boatwright's collections!

Library of Congress Classification Outline - something interesting to peruse to show you why things are shelved in certain places.

From the Library of Congress Classification site:

"The system divides all knowledge into twenty-one basic classes, each identified by a single letter of the alphabet. Most of these alphabetical classes are further divided into more specific subclasses, identified by two-letter, or occasionally three-letter, combinations. For example, class N, Art, has subclasses NA, Architecture; NB, Sculpture, ND, Painting; as well as several other subclasses. Each subclass includes a loosely hierarchical arrangement of the topics pertinent to the subclass, going from the general to the more specific."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.