How to Read a Call Number

Unlike public and school libraries, most academic libraries use the Library of Congress Classification scheme to arrange books on the shelves.

bookshelf with call numbers arranged

Read call numbers line by line.

  • First line: arranged alphabetically; P comes before PR.
  • Second line: read as a whole number; 96 comes before 3426.
  • Third and fourth lines: arranged alphabetically, then numerically, with the number treated as a decimal;  .3723 comes before .373.
  • Last line: shelved chronologically.