Reading Call Numbers

To help you find materials quickly and systematically, books are shelved according to the Library of Congress Classification System. The system is a combination of letters and numbers which identify the books and gives you the unique location on the library's shelves. Each book has its own call number. The Library of Congress (LC) call number begins with a letter or letters that represent the broad subject area into which the book falls. For example: P = Literature, and PS = American Literature.


1. Books are shelved in alphabetical order by the letter(s) on the top line

Call Numbers


3. The third and following lines in the call number are arranged in alphabetical and decimal order. There is a decimal point placed at the beginning of the third line:

Call Numbers

2. ...and then in numerical order by the second line:

Call Numbers


4. Some call numbers may even have a fourth line. This may be the year the book was published, a copy number, or a volume number:

Call Numbers

5. The books that you may check out of the library are circulating books, they are located on the third level. The library also has books that are in special collections or locations. Some are listed below:


Call NumbersReference Books (REF) are books that you may use in the library, but they are not to be checked out. Reference books are located on the main level of the library. They are indicated by additional information that is above the LC call number.

Archives (ARCHIVES) are materials that are stored in the Archives Storage Areas on the third and ground levels. They include yearbooks, course catalogs, newspapers, photographs, and other items of historical value that pertain to Widener.


The Curriculum Collection (CURR) consists of children's literature and classroom materials. It is located on the fourth level.

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