Reading LC 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
N: Fine Arts
P: Language & Literature
Q: Sciences & Mathematics
U: Military Science
V: Naval Science
Z: History of Books, Library Science, Bibliography
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.
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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