How are your books arranged on the shelf?

Several different systems are used to arrange books on the shelf across the University of Toronto's 40 libraries.  

In general, all of these systems are designed to:

  1. Help you find items on the shelf using a code found in the library catalogue called a "call number"
  2. Group similar items together on the shelf
  3. Describe the content and format of an item in the library catalogue

Library of Congress system

  • Used most often at the University of Toronto Libraries
  • Call number has both letters and numbers
    • E806 .G635 2012
    • UA600 .V36 1988
    • HC120 .L3 M37 2012
  • How to use it

Dewey Decimal

  • Used at OISE Library
  • Call number has mainly numbers, but letters are also sometimes present
    • 025.56 AL817L
    • 917.1 L786ca
    • 301.4120971 N277C
  • How to use it

Old Class

  • Used for books that were catalogued pre-1954 at many libraries
  • Robarts 9th floor storage – storage retrieval form
  • Call number has mainly letters with some numbers
    • P Med M
    • Pamph. HAm. S.
    • EcF G5784g
  • Developed at University of Toronto
  • How to use it [PDF] *Please note that the locations in this document are no longer correct.


  • Used for many government documents and publications
  • Call number has both letters and numbers with punctuation interspersed
    • CA1..FN....-2006A11
    • US1..CM.100..S71
    • UN5..EWA.......-U51 1979+
  • Items are arranged on the shelf by country and government body, not by subject
  • How to use it

Audio Visual search terms

  • Used at the Media Commons
  • Call number has material format followed by number
    • VideoDVD 758910
    • Videocass 005288
    • AudioCD 450071
  • Developed at University of Toronto
  • Media Commons materials are retrieved only by staff, so you do not need to know how to use it.
See other FAQs about

Can't find what you're looking for?  Contact us.