Skip to Main Content

NYC School Librarian Guidebook: Call Numbers

Resources to examine our inherent bias, promote personal awareness, and help us build collections for our students that reflect themselves and the world around them.

Call Numbers

There is a standard for call number patterns. School libraries should mirror the public library as much as possible and use the Dewey Decimal System. We are providing our students with an opportunity to become lifelong learners. Lifelong learners use public or academic libraries. These call numbers are similar to those used by New York City public library systems. The Office of Library Services recommends the following as a default:

AUD = for stand alone audio like Playaways. 

AV = for both audio and visual materials, especially the older formats, like slides, transparencies, filmstrips. If any of these materials are current enough to be retained in your library collection, use this call number prefix. Please refer to our weeding/selection guidelines in the Collection Development Policy. In most cases, older formats should be discarded as content is available digitally.  

BIO = for individual biographies. Some may want to use 920s for collective biographies or put them in their Dewey subject category. NYC school libraries do not use 92 for individual biographies.

CD = for CD-ROM formats

DVD = for Digital Video Disc

Easy or E = for Easy Books or Early Readers. In elementary this is important. Middle and high schools may want to integrate these books into the regular collection using the appropriate call numbers to avoid insulting our struggling readers.

eBook = for electronic books

FIC = for fiction books

GN - for graphic novels followed by FIC for any books that do not have a true non-fiction number. Manga and comics would use this designation instead of 741.5 for simplification, so a manga book would be (GN FIC KIT). A nonfiction book on ancient civilizations would be (GN 937 FRA) while a biography would be (GB BIO KIN). All fiction, manga and comic titles would call under (GN FIC ABC)

KIT = for multiple formats in a box or bag

MAP = for map collections

MP3 = for electronic media in digital format

SC = for story collections

PIC = for picture books which are not always easy and may be in middle or high school collections

VID = for videos

Nonfiction books should be cataloged according to the Dewey Decimal System with the first three letters of author's last name. OLS does not recommend genrefication. 

Do not order Reference or Professional books. They are expensive and date easily! If Reference materials are selected, interfile as per Dewey Decimal System.

OLS has many excellent reference and professional books in NOVELny and in the Citywide Digital Library on Sora.

Paperback books should be ordered only if Library or Trade Hardcover bindings are not available and should be cataloged under their designated Dewey category (nonfiction, biography, fiction, etc.). Order KAPCO on all paperback books and only order paperback if no alternative is available. 

Books in languages other than English should be classified under their Dewey number with the language as the prefix:

SPA = Spanish (ex. SPA FIC PER)

FRA = French

CHI = Chinese

ARA = Arabic

BEN = Bengali

HAI = Haitian Creole

KOR = Korean

RUS = Russian

URD = Urdu

JAP = Japanese

NYCPS is committed to creating and supporting learning environments that reflect the diversity of New York City. To ensure that our website serves the needs of everyone, it follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level AA. That means the sites work for people with disabilities, including those who are blind and partially sighted. We are committed to creating accessible digital experiences for all website visitors. If you require assistance with any documents on our site, please email