Most academic libraries, including Waldo Library, use the Library of Congress (LOC) Classification System.
With the LOC system, each letter represents a different topic, or "class". The link above will take you to the LOC website and will allow you to click on each class and sub-class, seeing the definitions of the letters and numbers assigned to each class. Fiction and non-fiction are all shelved together with LOC.
We also have bright green posters scattered on the walls of Waldo Library to help orient yourself within the LOC classification system. If you're not sure where you'd find a specific grouping of books, such as the engineering section, queer studies, world languages, education, and more, the posters will tell you what letter each subject is assigned.
Call numbers look differently on catalogues than they do sometimes on the spine of an item (photos in example below):
Broken down line by line:
LINE 1 - Indicates Subject
LINE 2 - Indicates sub-subject
LINE 3 - Third line is a “cutter number” - related to author’s name or title of work
LINE 4 - Sometimes there is another letter/number combination that is used to be more descriptive of the item topic. Note, this line might not always be here.
LINE 5 - Last line is usually publication year
Anything beyond that is copy/volume number
Not every item is the same. Look at the example below to see how you can find a book in the stacks, starting from the library home page.
Here is an example of how to find a book in Waldo LIbrary's General Stacks using the Library of Congress Classification System.
Let's say we want to read the book "In the Dream House" by Carmen Maria Muchado for an ENGL class.
You'll notice the call number right beneath the title, a long string of letters and numbers:
Before venturing into the stacks to find your item, it's a good idea to break the call number down into separate lines. This is how it might be broken down on the item/book's spine, so it will help in picking the item out from the shelf as well.
Now we are ready to venture into the stacks to find our book.