In the first installment of Understanding CPL Call Numbers, I gave an overview of some basic terms you’ll be seeing in the coming installments, as well as, a few examples of call numbers you will run into when seeking items on the shelf.  In this installment, I just want to talk a little bit more about print fiction for adults.

In print fiction for adults, the majority of items have the same simple call number sequence as we saw in the first installment, such as “F MACOMBER.”  The “F” simply stands for “fiction”, and “MACOMBER” is the last name of the author of the book in question, in this case Debbie Macomber.  A call number like “F MACOMBER” refers to print fiction for adults that is usually in hardcover, although in many cases it refers to print fiction for adults in a large size paperback, often the same size as a hardcover adult fiction book.  The same call number pattern for these adult fiction books can be found for all other authors: an “F” followed by the last name of the author (F GRISHAM; F MACOMBER, and so on).  Pretty simple, huh?  The only catch is that this call number pattern does not distinguish titles.  This means that all of Debbie Macomber’s hardcover fiction books have the same call number, no matter the title of the book.  And the same goes for Jan Karon and John Grisham, and Danielle Steel, and so on.

A book with a call number beginning with “PBK” refers to those fiction books that are small sized paperbacks, commonly referred to as “trade paperbacks.”  These are the smallish-sized books that are most noticeably sold in drug stores, Wal-Marts and airplane terminals, but of course are also commonly sold at larger bookstores such as Barnes and Noble.  Most Harlequin Romance novels are sold as trade paperbacks, but there are also westerns, some mysteries, and so on. Many drugstores also sell non-fiction trade paperbacks, particularly those with information on prescription drugs and other medical terms.  Trade paperbacks also are often former best sellers that had their initial run as a hardcover, followed by a run as a large-sized paperback.  As regards Chesapeake Public Library call numbers, the “PBK” replaces the “F” at the beginning of the call number; thus “PBK KARON,” “PBK GRISHAM”, and so on.  Like the “F” fiction books, the “PBK” designation does not distinguish titles within the call number. And also, just as with the “F” fiction books, “PBK” too seems pretty simple and straightforward.

As you can see in the above illustrations, the call number is displayed on the spine of the book.  In many cases, there is a genre label placed just above the call number.  In the case of Debbie Macomber, many of her trade paperback books also bear the genre label “romance.”

And speaking of genre labels, you may come across a few more besides romance that will have a call number beginning with the letter “F”.  There are genre labels for adult fiction books that are “urban fiction”, “fantasy”, “mystery”, “science fiction” and “historical fiction”.  These genre labels always appear above the call number on the spine label of the book.

In the next installment of “Understanding CPL Call Numbers”, we’ll take a look at Large Print books.

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