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Waidner-Spahr Library

Books in Waidner-Spahr Library: Call Numbers

A short introduction to the Library classification system, in video and text.

Part 3: Call numbers: What are they? How do they work?

Most of the books in Waidner-Spahr Library are arranged by a system known as the Library of Congress Classification, or LCC (though there are some exceptions).

The LCC determines the "call number" that serves as the identity and address of each particular book.

Call Numbers are made up of a combination of letters and numbers, which, put together indicate the predominant content of the book, as well as other publication information.

LCC is divided into 21 subject areas. (You can see them all listed on the Library of Congress Website). Each subject area has its own letter, and is then subdivided into specialty areas, indicated by the first set of numbers.

Let's look at some examples...

Book title: A Decade of Dark Humor: How Comedy, Irony, and Satire Shaped Post-9/11 America

The call number of this book would be displayed on the spine like this:

Call Number Element Meaning
E History of the Americas.
902 The United States, 21st Century, George W. Bush's Administration, 2001-2009.
.D423 This line varies depending on the kind of book. In this case, this code refers to the Word, "decade," from the title.
2011 The year of publication.
So the "E" section is subdivided by numbers only.
  • From E11-E143 you will find general information on "America" as well as information prior to the establishment of the colonies that will lead to the United States.
  • From E151-E909 you will find information presented chronologically detailing the United States.
Another example:Book title: Underlying Foundations of Science Used in the Regulation of Industrial Chemicals
The call number of this book would be displayed on the spine like this:
Call Number Element Meaning
QD "Q" is the category for science, and this call number subdivides into "QD" to indicate Chemistry.
7 The numbers under "QD" subdivide into different types of chemistry. This number indicates general chemistry information.
.P53 This code refers to the author's last name, Plamondon.
2009 The year of publication.

Video Tutorial Part 3: Call numbers--What are they? How do they work?