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Module Three

FINDING A BOOK ON THE SHELF

Library of Congress Classification and Call Numbers

The call number is probably the most important piece of information in the record for physical items that are housed on the library shelves because it tells you exactly where the item is located. Items in our library are shelved according to the Library of Congress classification system. This system uses a combination of numbers and letters to organize books according to subject matter

Library of congress

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for a look at how materials are organized

Don't worry though, you don't really need to know these classifications, as long as you know how to read the call number. The call number is, in effect, the address of the book, directing you to its location on the shelf. It is unique to that item. The same call number which appears in the information for a book also appears on the spine of the book. Take a look at the call number of that book on business etiquette:

HF The first part of the call number begins with letters which correspond to a subject heading. In this case, H represents the general class of Social Sciences while
HF represents the subclass, Commerce
Read these letters alphabetically.
5389 These numbers, within the HF subclass, represent Business,
specifically business ethics and etiquette.
Read this as a whole number, though it may be followed by decimals.
B69 This line consists of a letter followed by numbers, usually the letter is the first letter of the author's last name.
There may be more than one combination letter/number line.
Read the letter alphabetically, and the number as a decimal.
2007 Year of publication

book spine

Note. Call numbers for reference books are preceded by the abbreviation REF and are kept in a special reference section. Other types of materials are also shelved separately and are identified by DVD, Audio Book, and so on, before the call number.

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