Library books most often show their spines to the world. On the spine of a book you can see the title of the book, the author and the name or logo of the publisher.
In addition to this, library books often have a call number label. At IST our call numbers are at the bottom of the spine. The call number has two or more lines. The first line or lines indicate the location in which the book can be found. The last line indicates the first three letters of the author’s last name.
Our library books are either fiction or non-fiction. The call numbers for the fiction books have E, ELE E or F on the first line for “picture books”, “elementary fiction” and “general fiction” respectively.
Call numbers for non-fiction books have a 3-digit number on the first line. This 3-digit number is for the Dewey Decimal Classification System and it organizes non-fiction books under different subject categories. For example, the 800’s section is for literature and the 900’s section is for history and geography. Students at IST are taught how to locate books using the Dewey system from grade 1. If you would like to learn more about it, come see us in the library.
Once you have found the section of the library where your book is located, you need to look at the last line of the call number. This is the first three letters of the author’s last name. Within a location, books are ordered alphabetically by author. In this way, for example, a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman would be found in the 741.5 shelves after the authors whose names start with F and before the ones whose names start with H.
We sometimes add a bit more information on the spine with colored stickers.
- New in 2011-2012 – white
- Early readers – red
- Easy readers for middle school – orange
- Wordless books – purple
- Mature topics – dark blue
Here’s a diagram to bring it all together. I prepared this for our wonderful volunteers who help us put books back on the shelves, but I thought that it might be of use to all of our patrons.
Sometimes we have more than two lines on the call number stickers, for example, for our books in languages other than English. Those books, in addition to having the same two lines that other fiction and non-fiction books have, may also have first a line with the letters WL to indicate World Languages and will have a line with the first three letters of a language’s name in English: CHI, KOR, FRE, GER, DAN. Under those two lines will come the rest of the call number as described above.
There you have it, how to read the spine of a library book at IST. Next time you check out a library book, take a moment to look at all the information we manage to put on its spine. We’re remarkable, us librarians. 🙂
Source for the first photo:
Fiction Books. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 17 Feb 2012. http://quest.eb.com/images/132_1250711