Call Numbers

Each book in the library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address-it tells us where the book is located in the library. Call numbers appear on the spines of books and in the online catalog.

book spines with labels showing call numbers

       Catalog screen with zoom in on call number

Note that the same call number can be written from
top to bottom, or left to right. 

The TCNJ Library, like many academic libraries in the U.S., uses Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subject.

Reading Call Numbers

Read the first line in alphabetical order (A, B, BF, C....L, LA...)
Read the second line as a whole number (1, 2, 3...100, 105...)
Read the third line letter alphabetically and the number as a decimal. (.C65=.65 , .C724=.724) Note: Some call numbers have more than one letter number combination line.
The fourth line is the year the book was published. Read this line in chronological order. (1906, 1991, 2004...)

Putting Call Numbers in Shelf Order
To understand how call numbers are put in order in Library of Congress Classification, again look at each section of the call number.

What Does the Call Number Mean?
Remember that Library of Congress Classification arranges materials by subject. The first sections of the call number represent the subject of the book. The letter-and-decimal section of the call number often represents the author's last name. As you probably recall, the last section of a call number is often the date of publication.

For example:

Title What You Need to Know about Developing Study Skills, Taking Notes and Tests, Using Dictionaries and Libraries
Author Coman, Martha J.
Call Number LB 2395 .C65 1991
The first two lines of the call number describe the subject of the book.
LB 2395=Methods of study in higher education
.C65 The third line often represents the authors last name. .C65=Coman
1991 The fourth line represents the year of publication.

Why is this important to know?
Since books are classified by subject, you can often find several helpful books on the same shelf, or nearby.

For example, within the same call number LB 2395,the call number that represents methods of study in higher education, there are other guides for college study.

Since Library of Congress Classification arranges materials by subject, knowing the letter(s) for your subject area gives you a place to start browsing the shelves.