Civil engineering: Browsing

Resources in civil engineering

Understanding call numbers

A call number (the number placed on the spine of the book) is a combination of letters and numbers to arrange materials by subject.

For example:

"Mechanical vibration by H. Benaroya, 2004" is located at 620.3 B456M 2004.

  • The 620.3 number represents the subject of the book. It is vibration in this case.
  • The first letter-and-number section (B456) represents the author's last name. The last letter (i.e. M) represent the first letter of the title.
  • The 2004 represents the year of publication.

Location of print items

Catalogue record: Holdings infomation

  1. Location: Hargrave-Andrew Library
    Call number: 620.3 B456M 2004
    Spine label reads:
    H 620.3
    The book is shelved in the main book collection which is on the Second level of the Hargrave-Andrew Library
  2. Location: Hargrave-Andrew Library Standards
    The material is shelved on the First level, Standard collection.
  3. Location: Hargrave-Andrew Library Multimedia
    The material is shelved on the First level, Multimedia collection.
  4. Location: Hargrave-Andrew Library Maps
    The material is shelved on the First level, Map Room
  5. Location: Hargrave-Andrew Library Reference
    The material is shelved on the First level, Reference collection.
  6. Location: Hargrave-Andrew Library Theses
    The material is shelved on the Ground level, Compactus Units

Please write down the Call Number and ask the Loans Desk staff for assistance

Library tutorials

Guide to call numbers

The Monash libraries use the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme to organise books and journals. This ensures that all materials on similar subject areas are kept together on the shelves. The following call numbers may be useful as a guide when browsing the shelves for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and related subject areas.

Numbers Subject
526.9 Surveying
532 Fluid Mechanics
551.8 Geomechanics
Engineering & allied operations
624 Construction engineering
625 Transport engineering
627 Hydraulic engineering
658.404 Project management
690 Building
691 Building materials
692 Auxiliary construction practices
693 Construction - specific materials or purposes
Heating, Ventilating and Air conditioning
711 Area planning
720 Architecture
808 Essay, reports and technical writing

How to decipher call numbers

Here is an explanation of:

  • what a call number is
  • how they are created
  • how to use one to find a book

What is a call number?

Call numbers are a series of predetermined numbers and letters allocated to items held by the library. They arrange items on the shelves so that items dealing with the same subjects are near each other. Call numbers are stuck to the spine or front of each item.

Monash University Library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification system for its call numbers except:

  • The Law Library uses a variation on the Moys legal classification system.
  • Clayton campus libraries use Dewey variations for Literature, Philosophy and Mathematics (Mos).

What do the parts of a call number mean?

Call numbers are basically divided into two parts:

  • subject classification: series of numbers that represent the subject area
  • author classification: series of letters and/or numbers that represent the author or title of the information

Some call numbers have a third part for the year of publication or extra author information.

Here is the call number for Spacetime Physics by Edwin F. Taylor, and John Archibald Wheeler, and what the parts describe:

In the Hargrave-Andrew Library
530.11 T239S Subject: 530 = Physics .11 = Relativity Theory
Author: T239 = Taylor S = Spacetime
In Caulfield Library
530.11 TAY Subject: 530 = Physics .11 = Relativity Theory
Author: TAY = Taylor


How do I use a call number to find an item?

It is important that you note down all of the call number, and which part of the Monash collection the item is held in. Then you need to find each part of the number in turn.

For example to find the book: Understanding Enzymes, by T. Palmer (call number 547.758 P176U4):

Call number structure

  1. Locate the first three digits.
  2. Locate any digits following the decimal point. Remember that it is a decimal system, so 547.8 comes after 547.75.
  3. When you have located the number in full, look for the letter, then the next set of numbers.
  4. Check that the last letter and number are correct, to make sure you have the right book and edition.

Some common problems in looking for items

If you can't find an item:

  • make sure you have written down the whole number
  • make sure that you have located the entire number, including all the digits after the decimal point
  • check that you are looking in the correct site or collection
  • look for prefix letters before the number (eg F = folio (large books), Mos = maths, NZ=New Zealand etc)
  • note that some collections (eg Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Microfiche) have their own numbering system
  • check that the item is not already on loan to someone else

Why aren't the call numbers consistent?

Sometimes call numbers seem very inconsistent, both inside and outside Monash. The reasons for this are:

  • Over the years the call numbers allocated to some subjects have been inadequate or knowledge has changed, eg advances in computing have caused many changes.
  • The rules of the Dewey system are open to interpretation. It is possible to classify the same book in different ways. For instance a book called Discrete Maths for Computing could be classified as a maths book, or as a computing book.
  • Monash Library is made up of a number of previously separate libraries. These libraries all had their own cataloguing procedures. The Library has now standardised these procedures.
  • Some Monash collections have been catalogued differently to reflect specialist needs, eg law and maths (Mos collection).


Key points to remember when deciphering call numbers:

  • items on the same topic are shelved next to each other
  • every part of the number is important for finding an item
  • work through the number systematically to find the item it describes
  • call numbers vary between libraries - make sure you have the right one