Tutorial: Understanding Call Numbers

Call numbers are used to arrange the books on the library's shelves so every book has a specific location. If you know how to read them you'll be able to find any book the library has.

Anatomy of a Call Number

Here's a breakdown of the call number  RA643 .W37 2009 

RARead the beginning letters in alphabetical order: (A, B, C...R,  RA , RB...Z)
643Read the first number (including decimal points) in numerical order: (1, 2...100...500...640, 642.8,  643 , 643.5, 644...1000)
.W37The next piece is a combination of letters and numbers. Read the letter alphabetically and the number as a decimal (.W1, .W2, .W21, .W22, .W229, .W3,  .W37 , .W4 ... .W63, .W631, .W64, .W7)
2009This is the year the book was published - helpful if there are multiple editions of the book.

Call Numbers in Context

Here's how call numbers look in the library catalog:

Screenshot of call number in catalog

And, here's how they look on the shelf:

Photo of books on a shelf with call number labels

Expert's Tip

Browsing is a great way to find books. The books in the library are arranged so that books on similar topics are nearby each other. If you get the call number for one book that covers your topic, there’s a good chance you’ll find more on the shelf nearby it.

Modified from: http://cooklibrary.towson.edu/help-guides/understanding-call-numbers