General Collection

General Collection and Year/Number Call Numbers

The Beinecke Library’s general collection has its origins in the books that were donated at the beginning of Yale College. The general collection’s direct predecessor is the Rare Book Room collection that was created in 1930 when the Sterling Memorial Library opened. The collection includes a wide range of printed material, from the Gutenberg Bible to current imprints. Strengths of the collection are many and include early printed books, religion and philosophy, British history and literature, early American and English newspapers and serials, continental literature, and children’s literature. For more complete information see the Guide to the Collections.

Before 1971, items were classed in the “Old Yale” classification, or as a name collection. Newly cataloged material for the general collection is classed either in the year/number scheme or a name collection. Year/Number call numbers consist of the location, the year of cataloging, and consecutive number; they are divided into groups according to size and format. Use a year/number call number for General Collection materials unless otherwise instructed.


For materials with year/number call numbers, the boundaries for each size are:

up to 25 cm. high (and gaylords slightly over 25 cm high)
up to 23 cm. wide (and gaylords slightly over 24 cm wide)
between 25 and 37 cm high
over 23 and up to 31 cm wide
over 37 cm high
over 31 cm wide


Call numbers should be written following these guidelines:

  1. Mark on Yale bookplate when there is one, generally in the upper left corner
  2. Mark on back cover, lower right hand corner, when there is no Yale bookplate unless cover is too dark
  3. Mark on last page, lower right hand corner, when 1 or 2 don’t apply. The lower left hand corner is the alternate location when the lower right hand corner is unusable


Call numbers should be reserved in the appropriate call number “dummy” record. All of these call number records can be retrieved by performing the Staff Name Headings search: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Technical Services. Alternatively, individual call number records can be retrieved using a title search (e.g. Octavo call). Instructions for reserving call numbers are found within each record.

As of January 1, 2020, quarto and folio call numbers are only used for materials shelving at 121 Wall Street. Octavo call numbers are used for octavo material shelving at 121 Wall Street and all materials shelving at LSF.

The location code is the code for the collection that owns the material (e.g. beinwa or beinycal, etc.). For information on the form for inputting into Orbis see the call numbers document.

Octavo ‡b beingen ‡h 1992 ‡i 10
Quarto ‡b beingen ‡h 1992 ‡i +3
Folio ‡b beingen ‡h 1992 ‡i Folio 2

Broadsides for gen, ycal and ycgl are classed in the year/number collection. Western Americana broadsides are classed in wa. For more information on marking see the Broadsides page.

Box (legal folder) ‡b beingen ‡h BrSides ‡i Box 1992 10
Broadsides (16 x 20 inches) ‡b beingen ‡h BrSides ‡i 1992 3
Folio (20 x 30 inches)  ‡b beingen ‡h BrSides ‡i Folio 1992 2
Double Folio (30 x 42 inches)  ‡b beingen ‡h BrSides ‡i Double Folio 2010 25
Elephant Folio  (36 x 48 inches)  ‡b beingen ‡h BrSides ‡i Elephant Folio 2010 10

Serials and monographic series or multipart items which are open entries are assigned year/number call numbers preceded by S on the same line as an indication that shelf space is to be left for additions.

Octavo ‡b beingen ‡h 1992 ‡i S10
Quarto ‡b beingen ‡h 1992 ‡i +S3
Folio ‡b beingen ‡h 1992 ‡i Folio S2

Additional Copies

Monographs: For an added copy of a monograph, do not add as Copy 2, but assign a new Year/Number call number.

Broadsides: For an added copy of a broadside, do not add as Copy 2, but assign a new Year/Number call number, except for broadside serials.

Serials: For an added copy of a serial, add as Copy 2, etc., to the serial record.