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The books on our shelves are arranged using the Library of Congress Classification system. Each book in the library has a unique “call number”, which is a combination of letters and numbers that are used to place books in alphabetical and numerical order. When you find a book in our online catalog, you can use the call number to find the book. The call number is placed on the lower part of the spine of the book.
In our catalog, the call numbers are displayed as a single line, but the spine label displays the call number as 3 to 5 lines. The call number is always read from left to right, then from top to bottom (when applicable).
Using the Library of Congress Call Number System
Here are a few basic principles to help you understand how to use the call number to find a book on the shelf:
Letters are always alphabetical by the first letter, then the second letter.
When it comes to letters, nothing comes before something. This means that call numbers starting with D come before DA, DB, and DC
Numbers before the decimal (typically the first line) are "whole" numbers, meaning that DA397 is read as "D A Three hundred and ninety-seven" and comes after DA396 and before DA398.
Any numbers after the decimal are read as being in the tenths, hundredths, and thousandths place. This means that DA397.S3876 could come immediately before DA397.S4
Decimals that do not have a letter are part of the first line and come after the call numbers without decimals. This means that DA397.S3876 is before DA397.28 S3876
This table shows how the call number is displayed both on the spine of the book as well as how it is arranged on the shelf.