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

How to Read Call Numbers

Have you ever wondered how library books are assigned their places on the shelves? Have you ever wondered if call numbers mean anything about the book? This guide will provide an introduction to understanding to reading, using, and finding items by their call numbers.

What are Call Numbers?

The call number is:

  • the book's address in the library. It's how you find the book on the shelf.
  • a way to group similar items in the same subject (or classification) together nearby.

Like most other college libraries, the John M. Flaxman Library organizes books using the Library of Congress Classification System