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Call Numbers: Finding Items in the Library

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

    Listed below are the general subject categories for the Library of Congress Classification system which are used at the beginning of call numbers. For more extensive detail, review the Library of Congress Classification Outline.