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Finding Library Resources

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.

If you are looking at a physical book in the catalogue, it will tell you which of the ANU Library branches holds that item, and will give you a Call number.

Library of Congress Classification System (LCC)

The Hancock, Chifley, and Menzies libraries all use the Library of Congress Classification system. To locate the book shown below, break the call number down into parts.

HD  - First, locate the area of the collection where the first two letters of the call number appear. These will be in alphabetical order, for example, HD will appear after HC in the colleciton.

9539 - view the following numbers as a whole number. For example, this would be read as nine thousand, five hundred and thirty nine.

.R32 - The letter following the decimal place will then appear in alphabetical order, followed by the number read as a whole number (thirty two).

K35 - As above, alphabetically, and then by whole number

2018 - The call number may include a date at the end. These will be in date order, ie. 2016, 2017, 2018 etc.

Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC)

The Art and Music collection (accessible at Chifley Library) at ANU, and many other libraries around Australia, uses the Dewey Decimal Classification system. Instead of starting with letters and using numbers into the thousands, DDC instead uses numbers from 001-999. This means that DDC call numbers often have far more numbers after the decimal place to allow for the nuance necessary in classifying research materials.

To read a DDC Call number:

709 - Read the first number as a whole number, in this case, seven hundred and nine.

.24 - Read the number after the decimal point as a decimal rather than a whole number. In this case, point two four rather than twenty four.

D949 - Any letters will be read in alphabetical order, followed by the number as a whole number.

2014 - Any dates will be read in date order, ie. 2013, 2014, 2015 etc.

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