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Labor Studies

Understanding Call Numbers

A call number is the unique number given to each book in the library. It's like an address, telling you where a book will be located in the library. If you can understand the call number, it will be a lot easier for you to find books in the library.

You might be used to the Dewey Decimal System or other call numbers in libraries you've used in the past. We use Library of Congress (LC) call numbers, a combination of letters and numbers. 

A call number that you find in IUCAT (the online library catalog) might look like this one for the book The daily grind : how workers navigate the employment relationship by Marquita R. Walker.


Indpls - IUPUI University Library
Call Number
HD8066 .W277 2015

This tells you the book is located in IUPUI University Library and, because the call number begins with the letters HD, it's shelved on the third floor. Stacks refers to the 3rd and 4th floors of the library. If the book is located in the Stacks, call numbers that begin with the letters A through N are shelved on the 3rd floor; call numbers that start with P through Z are on the 4th floor.

To locate the book on the shelf:

  1. Make sure you have the entire call number, title and author of the book, and verify the location (IUCAT lists books held in other libraries on all Indiana University campuses). 
  2. Go to the HD section on the 3rd floor (general areas are indicated on the library maps).
  3. Look at the signs on the ends of the bookcases that indicate the number range located down that row. You'll be looking for the range that contains HD8066.
  4. When you've found the shelves that include books with HD 8066 at the start of the call number, you'll look for the next part: W277. (Hint: the W stands for the first letter of the author's last name.)
  5. Verify the year 2015 at the end of the call number (this is the year the book was published) and double-check the title. 
  6. Take the book to the 2nd floor Service & Information Desk to check it out. You'll need your Crimson Card or Jag Tag!

Tip: Sometimes call numbers will be a bit longer, like this one: E184.A75 K49 2015. Don't let the extra numbers bother you! Just start at the beginning and work your way through each part of it. For example:

  • Locate the E184 shelves on the 3rd floor, then move along the shelves until you see E184.A75 on the book spines. 
  • Next you'll look for the K49 part of the call number.
  • When you see E184.A75 2015, look for the correct book title and author.

Tip: You'll often find books on the same topic shelved together, so you might find additional books useful to your research while looking for just one.