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Call Numbers: Finding Items in the Library

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Scope: This guide will show you how to read call numbers, so you will be able to find materials in the University of Maryland Libraries.


What are call numbers?

  • Each library item (book, video, DVD) has its own unique identifying number, or call number. This number reflects the subject of the item.
  • At the University of Maryland, call numbers are derived from the Library of Congress (LC) Classification Scheme.
  • A call number is like an address that gives the location where the item can be found in the library.


Reading call numbers

  1. Search the libraries' Catalog for a book or other material. Look closely! Is the item in the STACKS? FOLIO? MICROFILM? Which library has the material?
  2. Write down the entire call number: QC981.8.C5 T53 2006

    QC comes between QB and QD


    981.8 comes after 981.7 but before 989.5 (read as a whole number).

    C5 T53 2006

    C5 T53 2006 comes after C2T459 (read as a decimal).

  3. Use the McKeldin Library Floor Plan (pick on up at McKeldin's 1st floor Information Desk) to locate the area where the item is shelved. If the material is in a different library on the College Park campus, consult the appropriate floor plan.

    A book in the McKeldin Library Stacks with the call number QC981.8.C5 T53 2006 would be on the 7th floor of McKeldin Library.

    Brief overview: Library of Congress classification system

    The general subject categories for the Library of Congress Classification system, which are used at the beginning of call numbers, can be found here: Library of Congress Classification Outline.