Answered By: Scott Pieper
Last Updated: Jun 30, 2020     Views: 1798

The Georgia State University Library has about 1 million books on our shelves. Each item has its own call number, which is on a sticker on the spine. They usually look like they do in the image:

books on a shelf with a focus on the spine label stickers 

We use the Library of Congress classification system. This system organizes books by subject, so when you find one book you're interested in, look around it on the shelves and you'll find others that are similar. 

Here's an example of how to read a call number. 

Public Health Ethics and Practice by Stephen Peckham 
RA427.25 .P826 2010   


Call numbers begin with letters that refer to the general subject. 
RA = Public Aspects of Medicine 


These are followed by numbers which refer to the specific subject. 
RA 427 = Public Health 


The third part usually represents the author's last name or the beginning of the title. 
P = Peckham 


The last number is the year the book was published. 


According to the catalog record, this book is located on Library North 3.  Write down the call number and location, or you can text this info to your phone! Below is a screenshot of what this will look like in the catalog.

a page from the catalog showing a book and its shelf location 

When you get to the floor, look at the ends of the shelves to find where your book is, as this student is doing in the following photo.

a student looking at the end of a shelf as he tries to find where his book is. 

First find the second with the first letter (so in our example, R), and then within the R section, the RA section, so forth, until you’ve found the title you are looking for.  If you have any trouble at all, don’t hesitate to ask for a librarian’s help. Once you’ve located your book, remember to bring it to the circulation desk to check-out.


updated 6/29/2020 kas