Understanding Call Numbers

What are call numbers for?

Each book in the library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address: it tells us where the book is located in the library.  Call numbers appear 

Call numbers on the spines of books and in the online catalog
Note that the same call number can be written from
top-to-bottom, or left-to-right. 

Kent Library, like some other academic libraries in the U.S., uses Dewey Decimal Classification for call numbers. This system uses numbers to arrange materials by subjects.

Reading Call Numbers

Read call numbers line by line

Putting Call Numbers in Shelf Order

To understand how call numbers are put in order in Dewey Decimal Classification, again look at each section of the call number.

Different call numbers in order

What does the call number mean?

Remember that Dewey Decimal Classification arranges materials by subjects. The first sections of the call number represent the subject of the book. The letter-and-number section of the call number often represents the author's last name. And, as you probably recall, the last section of a call number is often the date of publication.  For example:

Lines of call number and explanation

Why is this important to know?
Because books are classified by subject, you can often find several helpful books on the same shelf, or nearby. For example, within the same call number 595.789, there are other books about butterflies or similar topics.

Similar books shelved together

Since Dewey Decimal Classification arranges materials by subjects, knowing the number(s) for your subject area gives you a place to start browsing the shelves.