What is a call number?
All books in the library are assigned a unique call number, usually found on the spine of the book. The call number is a kind of code that represents what the book is about. Books are filed on the shelves in call number order so that books on similar subjects are shelved together. To find a book on the shelf, you must be able to decode the call number. The middle column in the detailed catalogue record shows the call number for the book.
NOTE: The SFU Library covers a lot of floor space, with several special collections of library materials. To make books easier to find, there are special location designations in the catalogue records. Use the link to the floorplans in the catalogue record to make sure you're looking on the right floor for your location.
At the SFU Library, we use the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. LC call numbers are made up of letters and numbers and look something like this:
LC 143 F37 1992
Read the call number from left to right. The first part of a call number, LC 143, consists of a combination of one or two letters and a number that indicates a specific subject area within the Library of Congress classification scheme. If you have the call number for one book on your topic, browsing the shelves around that call number may help you to find other books with similar content.
The next part, F37, identifies a specific title within the range of books on that topic. The last part, 1992, is the date of publication.
Call numbers are arranged alphabetically on the shelves. You can use the floorplan link at the bottom of the catalogue record to see which floor includes the range of call numbers for your book. Books with the locations, Bennett Library or Bennett Library 3week, can be found on these floors:
|A - HV||Philosophy, psychology, history, business, sociology||4th floor|
|HX - QA||Criminology, education, music, fine arts, literature, computing science, physics, chemistry||5th floor|
|QB - Z||Biology, kinesiology, medicine, engineering||6th floor|
If we use the example above, LC 143 F37 1992,
- L call numbers fall into the range on the 5th floor, after the K call numbers on the 5th floor of the Bennett Library
- Call numbers beginning with a single letter come before call numbers with another letter added so L call numbers come first then, LA, LB, LC, etc.
- Once you've located the LC section, the books are in numerical order so LC 143 will come after LC 15 and before LC 1001
- The next part of the call number distinguishes individual books within a subject area. In this part of the call number, the numbers are read as decimals, so LC 143 D36 would come before LC 143 D4 because these are read as D.36 and D.4
- Many call numbers include the year of publication at the end. Our example indicates the book was published in 1992.