How to find the one book you need among the thousands of books on the library shelves?

Each book has been given a call number. Think of it as a street address, but instead of taking you to a specific building on a particular street, the call number allows you to go to the correct shelf to locate your book.


You’ve searched for the book Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science in the Library Catalogue. The call number is found in the Holdings information at the bottom of the screen.

Screenshot of the location of call numbers in the library catalogue.The call number of this book is BJ1481/B65/2011. Note that it is written on one line.  On the book the call number is located either on the spine or on the front cover and is broken down into 4 lines.

Call number on spine label.

 Finding the book on the shelf

Under “Home library”, you can see that this book is at the Saint-Lambert Campus Library, on the 3rd floor. Take note of your call number and head there.

Read the call number line by line, from top to bottom.

  • Start with the letters and look for the BJ section of the library by reading the signs at the end of the rows. The letters are in alphabetical order.

  • Once you’ve found the BJs read the 2nd line as a whole number (e.g., 1395 = one thousand, three hundred and ninety-five; 1401 = one thousand, four hundred and one)

  • Now look for the letter B found in the 3rd line. The letters are in alphabetical order on the shelves.

  • The numbers after the B are read as a decimal (.65).

Call number on spine.

  • There may be a 4th line of letters and numbers: read it the same way as the 3rd line.
  • The publication date may be the last line of the call number.