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How to find a book on a shelf

Learn how to read a Library of Congress (LC) call number (classification) to find the item on the shelf.

Find a book using its call number

  1. In the Library of Congress (LC) classification, the call number starts with a letter (or two), followed by numbers. The letter indicates the subject
  2. Read call numbers line by line (see example below):
  3. callnumbers
  4. Books are shelved left to right

The call number is also on the book's spine or front cover:


Shelf signs in most libraries show the first part of the call number and the subject areas:


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Library of Congress subject areas

A General Works
B Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
C Auxiliary Sciences of History
D World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
E History of the Americas
F History of the Americas
G Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
H Social Sciences
J Political Science
K Law
L Education
M Music, Books on Music
N Fine Arts
P Language and Literature
Q Science
R Medicine
S Agriculture
T Technology
U Military Science
V Naval Science
Z Bibliography, Library Science, Information Resources (general)

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Dewey Decimal System subject areas

000 Computer Science, Information, & General Works
100 Philosophy & Psychology
200 Religion
300 Social Sciences
400 Language
500 Science
600 Technology
700 Arts & Recreation
800 Literature
900 History & Geography