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Library Research

Understanding call numbers

What is a call number?

A call number classifies an item by subject. They are used so resources on the same topic are grouped together on the shelf, which makes it easier to browse materials in the same subject area. A call number shows you the exact position of the item within the Library, the collection, and the subject area.

The majority of items held in the ANU Library collection are classified according to a scheme called the Library of Congress (LC) classification scheme. Other schemes used by the ANU Library include the Moys, Bliss, Dewey Decimal and Harvard Yenching systems.

Example - Call number

How do you read a Library of Congress call number?

Watch this short video to understand how to read Library of Congress call numbers.

In the example below, the call number for Rabbit-proof fence is PR9619.3.P535 R33 2002. This unique number will enable you to locate the book on the shelf in the Chifley branch and the general area to browse other publications in the same subject area.


The call number is printed on a label, found on the spine of the book. The components of the call number are stacked vertically and read from top to bottom.

This example below would match the Catalogue record for Rabbit-proof fence (PR9619.3.P535 R33 2002).


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