Call numbers are a librarian thing. They make
sure books and other materials can be arranged systematically by subject. This makes
it possible to shelf browse. All the materials on one topic will be located together
on the shelves. In theory (and with only a few exceptions in reality) every
book, periodical, CD, and video will have a unique call number.
The Palomar College Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System. This system uses both letters and numbers. Each line of the call number symbolizes some specific information, such as its subject and author.
The first line of a call number will contain letters. Letters in the first line represent broad subject areas.
The second line of the call number will be a whole number or whole number with a decimal. The numbers represent a narrower aspect of the subject.
The third line of the call number and occasionally the fourth line will contain both letters and numbers.
The final line of the call number may end with a date or volume number or copy number.
The examples below illustrate line by line what a call number may represent.
The call number for the book by Germaine Greer entitled Sex and Destiny which was published in 1984 is:
HQ HQ represents Family, marriage, women, sex
21 21 represents Sexual behavior and attitudes
.G6713 .G6713 represents Greer
1984 1984 represents the date of publication
The Chinese Hospital was written by Gail E. Henderson and Myron S. Cohen. It was published in 1984. Its call number is:
RA RA represents Public Health
990 990 represents Hospitals in Asia
.C5 .C5 represents Hospitals in China
.H46 H46 represents Henderson
Do I have to know all this?
No, you aren't supposed to memorize what each letter and number stands for. But what you should know is that the call number puts a book near other books that share the same subject. So, for example, if you know the call number of one book about wheelchair sports, you will know where in the library to look for other books about wheelchair sports.
Once you know the call number, however, you are ready to get the book off the shelf. Below is a general listing of some of the subject areas in the Library of Congress Classification System.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM
The outline below lists some of the major subject areas that are represented in the first line of a call number.
AP: General periodicals
C...AUXILIARY SCIENCES OF HISTORY, SUCH AS BIOGRAPHY
D...HISTORY: GENERAL AND OLD WORLD
DA: British History
DC-DQ: European History
DS: History of the Middle East and Asia
DT: African History
DU: History of Down Under
E...HISTORY: UNITED STATES
F...HISTORY: STATE AND LOCAL UNITED STATES; CANADA; LATIN AMERICA
GV: Sports and Recreation
HB-HJ: Economics, Business, Finance
HQ: Family, Marriage, Women, Sexuality
HV: Social Pathology
HX: Communism, Socialism
JK: U.S. Politics
JX: International Relations
KF: Law of United States
NA : Architecture
PE: English Language
PN: Comparative Literature-Drama
PR: English Literature
PS: American Literature
QD : Chemistry
QH-QL: Biology, Ecology
QM: Human Anatomy
RA: Public Health
RC: Internal and Sports Medicine
SH: Outdoor activities, camping
U...MILITARY ARTS & SCIENCES
*Adapted from John Henderson, Ithaca College Library