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John M. Flaxman Library SAIC School of the Art Institute of Chicago

How to Read Call Numbers

To Read a Call Number, you first need to know how it is constructed:

Parts of a Call Number

Each Library of Congress call number begins with 1-3 letters. In the catalog, the call number looks like this: NC890.M3713 2016

On the book's spine, the call number looks like this:



Reading a Call Number
  1. Items are arranged alphabetically first.
    • Find N, then NC.
  2. Once you've found the NC section, find 890.
    • The first number is always to be read as a whole number. 890 comes after 89 and before 8900.
  3. The cutter number refers to the author and/or location.
    • Items are arranged alphabetically and then numerically.
    • .M3713
  4. The last number is the publication year.
    • This book was published in 2016. 
  5. For a Map of the John M. Flaxman Library with general call number areas, ask at the front desk!