Call Numbers

Call Numbers
Objective: Students will understand
how call numbers are used to locate
books and other materials in the library.
Libraries use different systems to organize
books. Most school libraries use the Dewey
Decimal System.
Dewey Decimal System
In the Dewey Decimal System, books are labeled
with letters and numbers so that you can find
them on the shelves. These are known as call
Call Numbers: Fiction
Call numbers for novels and stories start with an
“F” or “FIC” showing that they are fiction. Then
come the first few letters of the author’s last
name, like “ROW” for J.K. Rowling.
Call Numbers: Fiction
Once you’ve found the right author, look at the
book titles to find the exact one you’re looking
Books by the same author should be listed
alphabetically by title (unless they are part of a
Call Numbers: Non-Fiction
• Call numbers for non-fiction books start with
numbers instead of letters.
• Most call numbers will start with 3 numbers
followed by a period and possibly one or more
numbers. For example: 391.6
Call Numbers: Non-Fiction
• Then, like fiction books, the call number will
have the first few letters of the author’s last
Call Numbers: Non-Fiction
• Call numbers for biographies start with 92 and
are organized alphabetically by the person the
book is about.
Call Numbers: Non-Fiction
• The Dewey Decimal System groups non-fiction books
on the same subjects together, so generally all of the
books about the same topic will have a similar call
number. This means you can look at one shelf and
find several books on the same subject.
Call Numbers in the Catalog
• When you look up a book in the catalog, you should
find the call number listed. Write down both the call
number and the book title and take it to the shelf.
Finding Books on the Shelf
• When you are looking
at the shelves in your
library, you want to
look from left to right
and top to bottom.
Other Call Number Systems
• While the Dewey Decimal System is used in
most schools, most universities use the Library
of Congress classification system.
• Don’t panic! Books will still be shelved
according to their subject.
Library of Congress
• The Library of Congress Classification System
does not label fiction and nonfiction books
differently like Dewey does. All call numbers start
with letters and numbers based on a specific
• Examples:
– All books that start with RA565 are about
environmental health.
– Huckleberry Finn starts with PS1305 and this section
also includes literary criticisms and essays related to
Huckleberry Finn.
Library of Congress classification
Summing Up
• School libraries organize books using the Dewey
Decimal System.
• Fiction books will have call numbers starting with
“F” or “FIC.”
• Non-fiction books will have call numbers starting
with a set of numbers.
• Non-fiction books on the same topic should be
found in the same area in the library.
• The Library of Congress Classification System is
used at most academic libraries to organize

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