Answered By: Berkeley College Library
Last Updated: Nov 01, 2021     Views: 10442

At the Berkeley College Library, we use the Dewey Decimal System to organize and classify our collection.  Melvil Dewey created the system of categories and numbering in 1873 while working as a librarian. Without a system like this, it would be very difficult for librarians to keep continuity across collections in the thousands of libraries around the world as well as maintain their individual libraries.

Finding a call number or shelf location in the Library Catalog:

  1. Log into Engage to access the Library website and the Library Catalog where you can search for books (please see video below for detailed directions on how to access the Library Catalog).
  2. Once you’ve selected a book you’d like to find, click on the title of the book to access the record.
  3. Click on “All Copies” on the left side to find your campus and the “Shelf Location.”  The “Shelf Location” number is the Dewey call number for the book.
  4. Write that number down the follow the steps below.


The eat this, not that! no diet! diet : the world's easiest weight-loss plan – Shelf Location – 613.2 ZIN


Finding a book on the shelf using the Dewey System:

  1. The shelves at the library will have number ranges on the ends of the rows.  Using the first 3 digits of your call number (In our case, 613), find the row where that number should be located.

  1. Once in the correct row, find the section of books that have 613 on their spines. 
  2. Now it’s time to narrow down to your book using the number AFTER the decimal point.  For example, 613.2 would be on the shelf BEFORE 613.2092 or 613.60.  If you see the book 613.15, keep moving down the row until you see 613.2.

  1. Once you find the books in the 613.2 section, use the letters at the end of the call number (In our case, ZIN) to find your book.  The letters will be alphabetical on the shelf so 613.2 ZIN will come AFTER 613.2 YOU. 

What do I do if the book is not on the shelf?

  • Check around the shelf section.  Sometimes people put books back in the wrong order.  This is why shelving accurately is a priority for librarians.
  • Ask a librarian.  It may be waiting to be shelved, checked out or even missing.  A librarian can help you find a suitable alternative if needed. 
NOTE: Only non-fiction books are organized in the Dewey Decimal System. Fiction books are shelved by the author's last name. 


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