Answered By: Phoebe Stoneking
Last Updated: Apr 11, 2023     Views: 1348

The SVA Library uses Library of Congress (LC) call numbers to classify and arrange our books by subject. 


Anatomy of an LC call number:

Call numbers are listed on the spine of a book and in records in the online catalog.

For example, this is Art History by Marilyn Stokstad:

  • The first two lines describe the subject of the book.
    • N 5300 = Fine Arts--History 
  • N refers to books classified under Fine Arts, while the number range 5300-7418 is the subclass for History.
  • The third line often represents the author's last name.
    • S = Stokstad
  • The last line represents the date of publication.
    • 2008



How to Read a Call Number:

Call number 5300 .S923 2008
Read call numbers line by line.

Read the first line in alphabetical order:
A, B, BF, C, D... L, LA, LB, LC, M, ML...

Read the second line as a whole number:
1, 2, 3, 45, 100, 101, 1000, 2000, 2430...

The third line is a combination of a letter and numbers. Read the letter alphabetically. Read the number as a decimal, eg:
.S923 = .923, .C724 = .724

Some call numbers have more than one combination letter-number line.

The last line is the year the book was published. Read in chronological order:
2001, 2002, 2008, 2015...


How to Find a Call Number in the Stacks:

When you've found an item in our catalog, check its location and call number from the item record. This is the record for Art History by Marilyn Stokstad: Notice in the record that there are 4 copies of the 2008 edition; all four have locations in the Main Stacks. The location tells you which stacks in the library to go to. Other locations include Reference Stacks, Periodical Stacks, New Books Shelf, etc.

Our stacks have labels at the end of each row that indicate the location and range of call numbers in that row:

In the photo above, the sign indicates that books in that row will have call numbers ranging from A (the beginning of our main collection) to D 743 .E35.

Stokstad's Art History (5300 .S923 2008) is located in this row:

Within the row, read the call numbers on the spines of the books in order as described above in this post to navigate to the shelf: