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    Understanding normalized call numbers in Analytics

    Created By: Simon Hunt
    Created on: 2/01/2019


    Normalized call numbers.

    In Analytics, the "normalized call number" column in the Holdings Details folder is a handy tool for correctly sorting a call number list (see documentation here). It can also be useful if you want to get a report of everything in a call number range - such as QA24-QA27. Alma treats the "permanent LC classification top line" as a decimal, so M3 is "greater than" M245 when sorting by that column. Also, if your library uses call number prefixes (852 $k in the holdings record), they will appear at the beginning of the "permanent LC call number," interfering with sorting.

    The following guide describes how to assemble normalized call numbers - Library of Congress call numbers in the MARC 21 standard and "other scheme" call numbers. Refer to the Library of Congress documentation for holdings record formats for more information. Please note that the normalization components were derived by experimenting with results in Analytics and may not reflect all variations available, but the author is happy to update!

    LC Call Numbers in MARC 21


    Each row describes consecutive character(s) in the string. All letters are lower case.

    • (852 indicator 1)
    • LC classification code
    • Normalizing character (see table below)
    • LC class number
    • [space]
    • Cutter without preceding period
    • [space]
    • Title code or miscellaneous (repeatable with spaces between each)
    • [space]
    • Date
    • [space]
    • Call number prefix
    • [space]
    • 0 (only if the string will end in a letter*)

    *If the normalized call number will end in a letter (either a date like 1900z or a call number prefix), a [space] and 0 are added at the end.

    Digits in class number

    Normalizing character









    Example call number including a call number prefix (in italics): Folio QA24.D56 T72 1958

    Normalized: 0qa!24 d56 t72 1958 folio 0

    Note that the digits counted in the selection of the normalizing character do not include decimal portions of a call number. [Hat tip to Mark Ehlert at the University of St. Thomas.]

    Example call number: M457.2 .A27 op. 35

    Normalized: 0m"457.2 a27 op 35

    Use in Analytics Filtering

    This can be useful in querying specific ranges by using the "is between" operator in a filter. For example, to find all titles in the range PC5401-PC5499, you would use the following:

    Call Numbers coded as "Other Scheme"

    Call number styles that are not represented by dedicated first indicators in an 852 field - such as accession numbers - are coded with a first indicator '8'.


    Each row describes consecutive character(s) in the string. All letters are lower case.

    • 8 (852 Indicator 1)
    • Alphanumerical characters* preceding a space character in 852 subfield h
    • [space]
    • any remaining alphanumerical characters in subfield, with further spacing removed
    • 852 subfield i characters, with spacing removed
    • Call number prefix

    *Any occurence of a number is normalized with leading zeroes to create number with 12 places. Numbers separated by other characters (letters, decimals, dashes, etc.) are treated a separate numbers, with additional leading zeroes.


    Call number: 36

    Normalized: 8000000000036

    Call number with prefix (in italics): Music Lib Media Audio CD 405.1

    Normalized: 8000000000405.000000000001music lib media audio cd

    Call number with letters and numbers: BLH A622

    Normalized: 8blh a000000000622

    Call number with letters and numbers: PPR C646 R4

    Normalized: 8ppr c000000000646r000000000004

    LC call number mis-coded with a first indicator '8': Z43.A2 H4 1931

    Normalized: 8z000000000043.a000000000002h000000000004000000001931