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How to Read Library of Congress Call Numbers  

How to Read Library of Congress Call Numbers
Last Updated: Dec 17, 2010 URL: http://conncoll.libguides.com/lccallnumbers Print Guide RSS Updates
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Reading LC Call Numbers

How to Read Library of Congress Call Numbers
 

The Library of Congress Classification System:

The majority of books located in the Charles E. Shain Library are arranged using the Library of Congress classification system.  The use of this system allows books to be arranged by subject.  Each book is assigned an alphanumeric call number based on its subject matter.  The call number acts as a unique identifier for each item, and allows it to be placed on shelves near books pertaining to the same subject.  Along with allowing you to locate items on a shelf, use of the LIbrary of Congress call numbers makes it easier for you to browse for materials on a specific topic.

Library of Congress Classification Outline - Main Classes

 
A: General Works 
B: Philsophy, Psychology, Religion 
C: Auxiliary Sciences of History 
D: History-General & Eastern Hemisphers 
E-F: History-Western Hemisphere 
G: Geography, Anthropology, Recreation 
H: Social Sciences 
J:  Political Sciences 
K: Law 
L: Education  
 
M: Music 
N: Fine Arts 
P: Language  & Literature 
Q: Sciences & Mathematics 
R: Medicine 
S: Agriculature 
T: Technology 
U: Military Science 
V: Naval Science 
Z:  History of Books, Library Science, Bibliography
The main classes are narrowed by the addition of a second letter, called a subdivision.  For a full listing of the main classes and their subdivisions, check the Library of Congress site.

How to Read a Call Number:

Lets start with a sample call number:  QL568 F7 H575 1994

This call number will lead you to Journey to the ants : a story of scientific exploration by Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson

The first letter, "Q", represents one of the 21 major divisions listed above.  In this case the main subject is Science.  Items are shelved by this letter first in alphabetical order.

The second letter "L" represents a subdivision of the sciences, Zoology.

The numbers following the letters are classification numbers (in this example the numbers 568).  In combination with the class and subclass, the classification number further narrows the subject matter.  These are read as whole numbers, thus QL568 would come before QL600 and after QL5.

The next piece of information, the F7 H575, is called a Cutter Number.  The cutter number usually indicates the author of the work, but can also respresent other information.  The numeric component of a Cutter  Number is always read as a decimal so in this case the F7 is really F.7.  So F7 would come after F69 but before F8.

The last piece of the call number is the year of publication.
 
Examples:

 


101 
.M39 
1988

115 
.S82 
1975
QA 
76 
.H67 
1992
QE 
176 
.N497 
1986
or
 
 
PS3537 
T3234 
A6 
1994
PS3537 
T3234 
E335 
1990
PS3537 
T3234 
G858 
1989
PS3537 
T3234 
W3 
1947
 
 
If you are having trouble locating a book, please check with a Reference Librarian.
 

If you would like additional information,  check out About.com: Understanding Call Numbers

Charles E. Shain Library Floor Plans:

Main Floor: Reference Collection, Video and DVD Collection
Second Floor: Call Numbers A - N
Third Floor: Call Numbers P - Z, all Oversize and all back issues of Journals 
Lower Level: Government Documents collection, all Dewey classed books

 

 


 

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