Princeton University Library

East Asian Library Call Numbers

East Asian Library call numbers | Harvard-Yenching | Siku

Western language books in the East Asian Library follow the usual Princeton call number schemes: Richardson for those books cataloged before 1980, Library of Congress numbers for those cataloged after 1980. Since books published earlier than 1980 might have been cataloged first after 1980 (e.g., the whole Wilhelm Collection), and books published after 1980 might be continuations of a title first cataloged before (as are many periodicals), note that you cannot always tell from the publication date which call number scheme was used.

Books in Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) also usually have one of two call number schemes, Harvard-Yenching or Library of Congress. The change from one scheme, with the same caveats as above, was slightly later, at the end of 1983. In addition, for traditional bound books which form part of the original Gest Collection, and which include mainly books published in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) periods, a third call number scheme is used called locally siku.

Unlike Richardson call numbers, Harvard-Yenching call numbers are widely used in other East Asian libraries in the West as well, with libraries having moved to the Library of Congress scheme at times specific to each individual library. Richardson numbers are never used for CJK material.

Harvard Yenching numbers | general EAL call numbers | Siku

General explanation shelving rules | exceptions

The core indication (called here the “core number”) of Harvard-Yenching call numbers is two sets of digits surrounding a slash, such as:


Very rarely, on some spines, the slash is replaced by a period, in which case the number is difficult to distinguish from a Richardson call number. This core number may be preceded by a small set of letters, which give an indication of general collection, location and language, and of which several may be combined in the following order:

Oversized books, shelved separately
Rare books shelved in the Rare Book Room
Noncirculating books; ignore for shelving
Reference books for the Reference Room
Bibliographies in the Reference Room; treat as R.
Periodicals, shelved separately
Japanese language
Korean language
Chinese language


After the core number, and separated by a space, there might be volume, copy and/or year designations; these are shelved in numerical order of course. Very rarely, Chinese, Japanese and Korean works may have the same number. In cases when they are intershelved, the order is then Chinese-Japanese-Korean. An example of a rather complicated call number is:

PJ3202.03/2314.21 1995 c.2

Harvard-Yenching call number shelving rules | general explanation | exceptions

The Harvard-Yenching core number is treated as follows. You will have to note carefully the placement of slashes and periods; dashes and parentheses are of secondary importance.

1. Before the slash, before the period: books are shelved strictly numerically:

633.138/4122.1 before
754.1/6612.8 before
1044.137/2356.6 before

This number might contain a dash near the end, such as 3140-7/1212; these are shelved right after the numbers without the dash, but before the next number or period, so:

2140/1212 before
2140-7/1212 before

2. Before the slash, after the period: books are shelved decimally:

1044.137/2356.6 before
1044.2/2356.6 before
1044.21/2356.6 before

Also here you might sometimes find a number here containing a dash, as 2-3, or 2-4. Again, these are shelved after numbers without a dash, but before any other number:

1044.2/2356.6 before
1044.2-3/2356.6 before
1044.2-4/2356.6 before

3. After the slash, before the period:

In the case of Chinese books: these numbers are treated decimally:

1044.2/0.61 before
1044.2/2156.6 before
1044.2/2356.6 before

In the cases of Japanese and Korean books: these numbers are treated numerically:

J1044.2/0.61 before
J1044.2/356.6 before
J1044.2/2156.6 before

For dashes, see under 2.

4. After the slash, after the period: call numbers are treated decimally:

1044.2/2156.13 before
1044.2/2156.6 before
1044.2/2156.6-7 before

For dashes, see under 2.

5. Final parentheses:

The core number may end with a number between parentheses, not preceded by a space. These are volume indicators, and therefore should be shelved numerically:

J1044.2/356(4) before
J1044.2/356(11) before

General exceptions to the above Harvard-Yenching rules | general explanation | shelving rules

N9101/1715 v. xxx

These call numbers (the so-called green hishi set) are all located in Room 405.


These call numbers (the blue-box Bai pu cong kan sets) are followed by a period and digits which indicate their series number. These digits after the period are treated numerically. Since these sets are currently in the Annex, it is unlikely that as a patron you will encounter this rule.

9100/1035.2 before
9100/1035.14 before

In general, note that most Chinese and Japanese Harvard-Yenching call numbers in the (J)3000's and (J)5000's and up are stored in the Annexes; in addition, almost all Korean Harvard-Yenching books are.

Siku books | general EAL call numbers | Harvard-Yenching

General explantion | shelving rules | exceptions

These consist of one of the letters A (jing, classics), B (shi, histories), C (zi, philosophers) and D (ji, belles-lettres), referring to the traditional Chinese four-fold classification scheme, followed by two numbers separated officially by slashes (but periods do occur). The first number is a general subject number, the second number is the accession number in the Gest Collection.

These call numbers may be preceded by a T; in that case, the item is considered rare and currently stored in the Mudd Library; you will have to go through the East Asian Library to receive permission to use these before going to Mudd Library though. If not preceded by a T, the books are stored in the Annexes. These can only be recalled from the Annexes at the East Asian Library, not from any other Princeton location. Since this is the case, an average patron will have no need to care about the following shelving rules.

Shelving rules general explanation | exceptions

Both sides are shelved numerically, with the initial letters shelved alphabetically:

C38/78 before
C38/122 before
C138/72 before

Letters within parentheses following a number, such as C38/78(a) denote different titles belonging to one general title. These are all shelved alphabetically when needed. The designation CM is sometimes encountered on old cards for medical books in the C section; the designation is treated as C, and the M should be ignored.

The two numbers may occasionally be followed by a period and up to four alphabetic letters (such as hcgz); the latter are shelved alphabetically if needed.

Exceptions to the above rules general explanation | shelving rules

There is a very small set of call numbers of the form


these are treated as if they were


e.g. B.002.czcg is treated as B0/2.czcg

The very rare numbers such as

B-first number.secondnumber.letters

are treated as


Thus B-12.134.egf is shelved as B12/134.egf.

Princeton University ShieldPrinceton University Library
One Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08544 USA
609.258.1470 phone | 609.258.0441 fax | Web Site Feedback
Princeton Library A-Z | Search This Site | Library Hours | For Staff

© 2009 The Trustees of Princeton University. All rights reserved.
Last updated: March 26, 2009