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How to Find Physical Resources in the Library: Item Shelving Order

Call Number Breakdown

Understanding the Parts of a Library of Congress Call Number

Book Title: The Trial of Susan B. Anthony
Author: Martin Naparsteck
Call Number: KF223 .A58 N37 2014


  • The first two lines describe the subject of the book. 

KF = Law of the United States

223 = Federal law. Common and collective state law Individual states

To find out what the first two lines of a call number means, you can
visit the Library of Congress Classification Guide.


  • The third line often represents the author's last name.

N = Naparsteck


  • The last line usually represents the date of publication.


How the Books are Organized on the Shelf

How the Books are Organized on the Shelves

Call numbers are organized on the shelf starting with the top line and working down.

In the example above, the call number is KF223 .A58 N37 2014

Read the first line in alphabetical order.

J, K, KF, KFA, L, etc

Read the second line as a number. 

2, 3, 22, 23, 220, 221, 223

Sometimes the number has a decimal extension. Read the decimal one digit at a time.

223.53, 223.531, 223.54, 223.541

The third line is a combination of a letter and numbers.
Read the letter alphabetically and read the number one digit at a time.

.A58, .A6, .A61

The last line is usually a date. Read in chronological order:

2004, 2007, 2013, 2014

The shelf of books below illustrates the rules above.

(Source of info and the above image:

AOE Librarian

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April Higgins
(315) 279-5411