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CALL NUMBERS*

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.

A...GENERAL WORKS
       AE: Encyclopedias
        AP: General periodicals
B...PHILOSOPHY
       BF: Psychology
        BL-BX: Religion
C...AUXILIARY SCIENCES OF HISTORY, SUCH AS BIOGRAPHY
        CC: ARCHAEOLOGY
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
G...GEOGRAPHY
        GN: Anthropology
          GV: Sports and Recreation
H...SOCIAL SCIENCES
        HA: Statistics
        HB-HJ: Economics, Business, Finance
          HM: Sociology
          HQ: Family, Marriage, Women, Sexuality
          HV: Social Pathology
          HX: Communism, Socialism
J...POLITICAL SCIENCE
        JK: U.S. Politics
        JX: International Relations
K...LAW
        KF: Law of United States
L...EDUCATION
M...MUSIC
N...FINE ARTs
        NA : Architecture
        ND: Painting
P...LANGUAGE-LITERATURE
        PE: English Language
        PN: Comparative Literature-Drama
        PR: English Literature
        PS: American Literature
Q...SCIENCE
        QA: Mathematics
        QB: Astronomy
        QC: Physics
        QD : Chemistry
        QH-QL: Biology, Ecology
        QM: Human Anatomy
        QP: Physiology
R...MEDICINE
        RA: Public Health
        RC: Internal and Sports Medicine
        RM: Therapeutics
S...AGRICULTURE
        SH: Outdoor activities, camping
T...TECHNOLOGY
U...MILITARY ARTS & SCIENCES
V...NAVAL SCIENCES
Z...BIBLIOGRAPHY-LIBRARY SCIENCE


*Adapted from John Henderson, Ithaca College Library


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