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Reading Call Numbers

Call numbers are the key to finding books on the shelf. They are found on the spine label of each item and also in the online catalogue. Each item has its own unique call number which identifies where it is located in the library. The call number system used by Sault College, the Library of Congress Classification system, categorizes materials by subject.


Which Call Numbers Are Related To Your Program?

Visit your program's Program Guide for a listing of subjects and call numbers relating to your area of study. 

What do Call Numbers look like?

Call numbers are made up of letters and numbers. On books, they are written vertically (as seen in the image to the left), whereas online, they are written horizontally.

The call number to the left would read: QC611.8 .A5 I57 1973 v.2 

How to find your book on the shelf

Use the range tabs on the end of each bookshelf to help you find the area in which your book would be located. These ranges are in alphabetical order. For example, a shelf with a range tab showing “HV 6431 – KF 9763” would contain all books beginning with call numbers in this range. Other books in this area would include HX73, JL521, and KE613. 

Reading the Shelf

  • The first line is always a letter and is filed alphabetically.
  • The second line is a number line and is filed numerically. Sometimes there is a decimal point in the second line. If the number is too big, it can be split into two lines.
  • The third line is a cutter. It begins with a decimal, then a letter, followed by numbers. Read the letter first, then treat the numbers as a decimal. There may be more than one cutter line.
  • Other lines may include volume numbers, copy numbers, and/or dates.

Things to remember:

  • Letters before numbers.
  • Nothing comes before something.






Ron Doyle Library
Sault College
443 Northern Avenue
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
P6B 4J3
(705) 759-2554 ext. 2711

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