This is the "How to Read Call Numbers" page of the "Finding Books on the Shelf " guide.
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Finding Books on the Shelf  

Using the Library of Congress Classification System
Last Updated: Jul 25, 2016 URL: http://massbay.libguides.com/findingbooksonshelf Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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How to Read Call Numbers

The first line of a call number is treated alphabetically. Therefore, the following call numbers would be organized like this:

E
185
.E52x
D68
1988

Q
375
.L36
N49

QA
349
.M613
W4
1993

R
128
.G584
F5
1995

TX
719
.L783
E8
1977

The second line is read and shelved in numerical order, from 1-9999:

R
169
.Y29
K5

R
170
.H7
T43

R
170.2
.H7
J64

R
171
.R67
B33

R
3948
.P22
N43

R
7428.6
.M42
A1

R
9462
.B16
E24

Line three is different from line 2. It is a DECIMAL number, not a whole number. So, “.K79” comes before “.K8”, just as $0.79 is less than $0.80.  Example:

R
128
.K79
Y56

R
128
.K8
T43

R
128
.K8149
M35

R
128
.K825
M35

Line four is also treated as decimal number, even though it does not have a decimal point. Example:

R
128
.K8
T398

R
128
.K8
T43

R
128
.K8
T5

R
128
.K8
T51

One important thing to remember with call numbers is the rule, "nothing comes before something."

Therefore:

QA 349 .M613 W4

goes on the shelf before

QA 349 .M613 W4 1993 

Material in this section was adapted from the Colorado State University Library page http://lib.colostate.edu/howto/others/findbklc.html

 
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