Making Sense of Library Call Numbers

Magale Library has its collections in two classification systems, Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress. Both of these systems are divided by subject areas and allow for browsing.

Library of Congress Concepts

Books in the stacks and Reference section are arranged in the Library of Congress (L.C.)classification system. For a complete breakdown of Library of Congress subject area letters see: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/lcco/lcco.html

Each L.C. call number consists of several parts. For example, the call number for a book entitled, Doing Cultural Studies: the story of the Sony Walkman, is
(A) TK
(B) 7881.6
(C) .D65
(D) 1997

(A) TK Call numbers begin with one, two, or, at the most, three letters. The first letter of a call number represents one of the 21 divisions of the LC System. In our example, the “T” specifies the subject division, Technology. The “TK” represents the subclass, electrical engineering.

(B) 7881.6 This is the classification number. It should be read as a whole number with a decimal part. Thus, it would be found on its place on the shelf as if it read 7, 881.6 .

(C) .D65 This is called the cutter number. This letter/number combination indicates the author or title of the book. In this case, D65 is the cutter for the first word of the title, “doing” The numeric component of the cutter number is always read as a decimal number. Thus, .D65 would come before .D8

(D) 1997 The fourth line sometimes,but not always, includes the publishing date as part of the call number. Some older books do not have a date as part of the call number.

(E) If there is a fifth line to the call number, it would be there to indicate a volume number or a copy number.

Location, Location, Location

Knowing the call number of a book is only part of being able to locate it in the library. Do not neglect the Location Code available for the book. As the saying goes, location is everything. When you are searching a book in the Online Catalog (M.O.X.I.E.), it will tell you the location in the far left hand side of the screen at the bottom. Possible locations:

  • Magale Stacks
  • Oversize
  • Reserve
  • Reference
  • Hurley School of Music

What Color is Your Spine Label?

Another clue to finding books is a visual one, i.e., the color of the label cover. Here is the key:

  • light blue colored labels indicate a book is in the New Books Stacks located on the first floor.
  • dark blue colored labels are for books on the Sociology Cart, first floor of the library
  • yellow colored labels are for books or video tapes in the Reference Section, first floor.
  • red colored labels are for materials on Reserve at the Circulation Desk
  • purple colored labels are for movie videos, located by Circulation Desk
  • grey colored labels indicate a book is in the Computer Lab Library, Lab C, first floor
  • light green colored labels are for books in the Oversized Collection, second floor
  • clear labels indicate materials shelved in the stacks on second floor

Does Dewey Decimal Disseminate?

Materials in the Cline Room Archives and in the Rare Book Room are classified under the Dewey Decimal System. Subjects are divided into ten numerical systems from 000’s to the 900’s. For an analysis of the Dewey Class numbers system go to: http://www.calstatela.edu/library/guides/Dclass.htm

In addition, all periodicals are classed in Dewey, whether on the Browsing Shelf or on the second floor of the library Periodical Section. The collection of volumes for the periodical, American Artist, would be classed under the following call number:
(A) 705
(B) Am35a

(A) 705 The first line of the call number begins with numbers, a minimum of three. 705 indicates that this periodical is classed in the subject area, art.
(B) Am35a The second line is the cuttering. The letter/numbers combination, “Am35” is the cuttering for “American” and the lower case “a” is further cuttering for the word, “artist”.

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