Skip to main content

Tutorial: TOPCAT, the Library Catalogue: Call Numbers

An essential tutorial for understanding how to find what's in our Library.

Call Numbers & Locations

Call Numbers

A call number is a unique number assigned to an item in the library. Call numbers tell you where to find items on the shelf.

Our library, like most university libraries, uses the Library of Congress (LC) Call Number Classification Scheme to organize books by subject.

  • LC Call Numbers use a combination of letters and numbers. 
  • Call numbers begin with one or more letters, to represent the broad subject area.
  • Following the letters are numbers, for a more specific subject.
  • Then decimal numbers follow, to further subdivide.

It's complicated, because it's very precise.  Follow the link below to the LC website to see how the system is organized.  It only takes a minute to have a look.

Example of a Call Number

The call number for the bookThe Philosophers of Greece is: B 171 .B78.

B: the section for General Philosophy - read it alphabetically.  To get this book, find the "B" section in the library.

171: represents the "Ancient" time period of Philosophy - read it as a whole number.   Find 171 within the B section.

.B78: specifies this particular book (the author's last name begins with "B") - read the letter alphabetically and the number as a decimal. (.78 comes before .9)

1986: sometimes the date of publication is included at the end, but not always. It's only important if there are several editions.

Government Publications

Within our Library there's a Government Publication area.  These documents use a different classification system.

CA1: Canadian federal government documents

  • Example: CA1 PL13 - B433

CA2: Canadian provincial government documents

  • Examples:
    • CA2ON CF - A55,
    • CA2BC AG - 2004E46
    • CA2AL BD - 79F31

TOPCAT provides the location of items in our library. Find location information at the bottom of the record, beside each copy of an item.

General Bata Library Locations

1st Floor:

  • Archives & Special Collections

2nd (Main) Floor:

  • Reserves
  • Current Periodicals
  • Media (videos & DVDs)
  • Reference
  • Curriculum
  • Edu-Kits
  • Microforms
  • Folios
  • Science Fiction collection
  • Pamphlets

3rd Floor:

  • Stacks, with call numbers beginning with A - PR
  • Indigenous Studies Study Area

4th Floor:

  • Stacks, with call numbers beginning with PS - ZA
  • Government Publications (CA, US, UK)
  • Maps / Air Photos / Atlases
  • Data and Image Lab

TOPCAT Locations

Some of the locations you'll see in TOPCAT are:

  • Stacks: the regular library shelves. See the chart to know which floor has the call number.
  • Internet, E-Book, E-Journal or Online: only available online, by clicking the link button.
  • Folio: a section on the 2nd (Main) Floor for books too tall for the regular stacks.
  • Curriculum: classroom resources for Education students on the 2nd (Main) Floor.
  • Storage: low-use items put away. They may still be available for you - ask at the Library Service Desk.

Also remember that Trent University Library has two branches: Bata Library and Oshawa Campus.

  • See the next page for details on library branches.

Practice

If you have the following call numbers or locations, where would you look for them?

(The answers are at the bottom of this box - cover it if you don't want to cheat.)

  1. HD 30.255 .G736 2011
  2. PS 3554 .A5815 C57 2013
  3. QL 668 .E2 M358 2011
  4. location: internet
  5. location: curriculum

Answers

  1. 3rd Floor
  2. 4th Floor
  3. 4th Floor
  4. It's online - follow the link.
  5. 2nd (Main) Floor

Click the link below for a handout explaining how to read a call number and where to find locations in Bata Library.

Loading