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Dewey Decimal Classification System: So what is a call number anyway?

A guide that explains Dewey Decimal call numbers and how books are arranged on the shelves using this system.

What is a call number?

A call number is a group of numbers and/or letters put together to tell you where to find your book in the library.

A call number is located at the bottom of the book on the spine. It helps you to find your books more effectively

A call number is not the ISBN.

Once you've got your call number from the online catalog, it's time to go find your book!

What is a Cutter?

The cutter is found after the Dewey number. It is used to further organize books under one Dewey number by author. Notice how the Dewey number, 302.23, is the same on each book. The cutter gives each book with the same Dewey number a unique call number.

Parts of a Call Number


Subject classification-------302.3




Publication date--------------2000

What about the colored labels?

Colored labels help identify a special collection of books.

  • Red labels identify Religious Reference books which do not circulate.
  • Blue labels identify commentaries in the Religious Reference collection which do not circulate.
  • Yellow labels identify Juvenile Fiction (JF).
  • Purple labels identify Young Adult Fiction (YA).