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Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong Baptist University Library

Understanding Call Numbers: Introduction

Call Numbers: Locating items in the Library

What is a call number?

What is a call number?

At HKBU Library, every physical library resource (e.g. a printed book, DVD, music CD, journal issue, etc.) has a unique call number.


A call number is a string of numbers which consists of:

  • a subject classification number,
  • an author reference,
  • and optionally the year of publication.

Some call numbers also contain:

  • volume numbering (e.g. v.1, pt.1, 2016/17, 2015 Dec, etc.),
  • copy ID (e.g. c.2) at the end,
  • and the name of a library collection (e.g. RHK, S, AVI, AHC, etc.) either at the end or beginning of the string.
Examples of HKBU Library call numbers
Call no. in its entirety Name of collection Subject classification no. Author ref. Pub. year (optional) Vol. no./Copy ID
[LC] PN6101 .B395 2018 PN6101 .B395 2018
[LC] PL3097.M3 L528 2019 PL3097.M3 L528 2019
[LC] PL2507 .Q57 2018 v.32 LargeSet LargeSet PL2507 .Q57 2018 v.32
005.7565 M931M 2012 005.7565 M931M 2012
RHK 016.03 0211 1965 RHK 016.03 0211 1965
S F2 J21A no.513-516 2013 S F2 J21A no.513-516 2013
873.5984/6584 6823.1 2006 873.5984 /6584 6823.1 2006
AVI 791.4372 H249C no.1 c.2 AVI 791.4372 H249C no.1 c.2
LargeSet 083 2426 v.1 LargeSet 083 2426 v.1


Items in the Library are arranged according to their call numbers. In other words, a call number gives the exact "address" of a library item. You may find the call number of the item you want from OneSearch first, and then use it to find the corresponding bookshelf, and the item. Every item has a call number label stamped to it. For example, the call number label of a book is stamped on its spine.

In the OneSearch record, the text [LC] is added to call numbers which use the Library of Congress Classification system. This is to help you distinguish them from another similar-looking classification system previously used by the Library, which also uses letters as subject classes. These older call numbers don’t have the [LC] text.

The name of library collection e.g. [R], [RHK], [T], [LargeSet], etc. appears at the end of a call number which uses the Library of Congress Classification system. The Library does not put the name of library collection in English letters at the beginning of the call number in order to avoid confusion with subject class letters.


About this Guide

This Guide is the result of a collaborative effort between library staff from the Information Services and the Metadata and Cataloguing Services Cluster.

Need Help ?

Need Help ?

Should you need any assistance to locate the book,
visit Information Desk  (Level 3) of the Main Library.