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Read a call number?

  1. The call numbers assigned to most of the items in the NWFSC LRC collections are Library of Congress call numbers.
  2. Call numbers are the products of classification, which is a process that attempts to assign a unique notation to every item within a collection. This notation, or call number, identifies each item and provides a location for that item within the collection. To see how a call number is formulated, examine the following table:


  3. REF-RF This is the Collection Designator. In this case, this book is from the Florida Reference Collection.
    E This line represents the subject classification and is arranged in alphabetical order from A to Z. It can be one, two, or even three letters long. The E here indicates that this book is about American History.
    99 Combined with the previous line, this line forms the classification number and is read as a whole number. Classification numbers, or class numbers, are used to specify the subject matter of the item being classified. The E99 used here indicates that this book is about Indians of North America.
    S28 This line is the book or author number. It is arranged alphabetically and read as decimal numbers. These numbers are also known as Cutter numbers.  In this example this book number indicates that the subject is Seminole Indians.
    C6 Some items have a second book (or author) number. These, too, are arranged alphabetically and read as decimal numbers.  In this case this number was formulated for the book's author, Richard Coe.
    1898a This is the year of publication and is arranged in chronological order. Note the presence of the work mark (the letter a). This distinguishes one edition from another. In this case, the book owned is a reprint of the 1898 edition.

    Books are arranged in accordance with their assigned call numbers in this manner:

    BF BF BF BF BF BF
    441 441 441 441 441.3 442
    W475 W48 W486 W49 B5 B45
    1980 1987b

  4. While classification numbers are read as whole numbers, book numbers are read as decimal numbers even if the decimal point is omitted. For example, W475 should be read as .W475 and would precede W48. The year of publication (1980 and 1987) may become part of the call number when editions differ.
For a concise browsing guide to the LC Classification System, see LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CLASSIFICATION OUTLINE.