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Module 2: Finding Books

Call Numbers

  • Have you ever wondered how library books are assigned their places on the shelves?
  • Did you know that the call number -- the number placed on the spine of the book -- is a code which provides valuable information about the book?

What are Call Numbers for?

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,

call number on spines of books and in online catalog

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

Healey Library, like most academic libraries in the United States, uses Library of Congress Classification for call numbers. This system uses a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subjects.

Reading Call Numbers

call number line by line

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.

call numbers in shelf order

The following call numbers are in order:

call numbers in order

(adapted from

Healey Library | University of Massachusetts Boston | 100 Morrissey Blvd | Boston, MA | 02125-3393 | 617-287-5900