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How to Read a Call Number

Every item that is physically located in the library has a unique call number. Books have call numbers, videos have call numbers, bound journals have call numbers, and all of these call numbers tell you where these items are located within the library. The call number for a book or bound journal volume is usually found on the book's spine. For items like DVDs, though, the call number may be located on the front of the item. The IU Kokomo Library uses the Library of Congress call number system. Many public libraries use the Dewey Decimal system, so, for those familiar with public library call numbers, the call numbers at the IU Kokomo Library may look a little strange at first.

If you look up a book or other resource in IUCAT, the library's online catalog, you will see the call number displayed at the bottom of the catalog record. You can access IUCAT from the library's homepage and from any computer with a functional Internet connection, on or off campus. For more help with call numbers, see our Getting Started page.

Here's a sample catalog record from IUCAT. Note the location of the call number (circled in red) on this record:

Call number and location in IUCAT record

You have a call what?

After you look up an item in IUCAT, you will have a call number and a location for that item. Your next step is to find the item location within the library. If the record in IUCAT says that the item is located in Stacks, then you can find it on the second floor of the library. If the record says the location is DVDs, then you will find the item on the main floor. Check the Library Floor Plan/Map to see the various areas of the library so you can easily find the location of your item.

Once you know which section of the library in which your item is located, go to that area of the library, and look at the ends of the section shelves to see the call number ranges found on those shelves. Call numbers are arranged in alphabetical and then numerical order. Equipped with this context, you should then be able to locate your item. If you can't find it and need help, please don't hesitate to ask for assistance at either the Circulation/Reserves or Ask A Librarian service desk.

Browsing for books

The IU Kokomo Library has a large collection of books, and it is not always easy to know in what subject section a particular book might be found. For instance, a book that covers the life of Abraham Lincoln might be found in the section where you find other books on American history, but you also might find something of interest in the section where the general biographies are shelved, the United States law section, or perhaps even in the American literature section. It is always best to start your search in IUCAT so you can locate the subject section in which you can find the books that most interest you.

Once you find a book of interest, check the other titles surrounding that book; you may find other books on the same subject shelved near the book that interests you.

If you want to browse the shelves without first looking in IUCAT, you may find the Library of Congress Classification Table helpful in your search. This table gives you an idea of call number ranges that pertain to particular disciplines. For example, books on the history of the Americas generally begin with the call number E, whereas literature titles begin with P. Print-outs of the Library of Congress classification categories are available at the Ask A Librarian service desk.

Last Updated: 13 January 2015

Last updated: 08/20/2015