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Library of Congress Classification

Using Call Numbers

What Is a Call Number?

In libraries call numbers serve more than one purpose:

  • A unique identification number. Each book has its own unique call number which is taped to the lower outside edge of the book's spine.
  • Books written about the same subject have similar call numbers, grouping them together on the shelf and making it easier for you to browse the library's holdings on a specific topic.
  • A location code. A book's call number also appears in the online computer catalog. Once you have located the entry for a specific book, note its call number and then look for the book in call number order on the library shelves (also called the "stacks").

Library of Congress (LC) Call Numbers

  • most academic and research libraries use a classification system called Library of Congress (LC) call numbers, which begin with letters of the English alphabet
  • in the online catalog, the call number is listed on a single line, with spaces between the four parts:
    HT871 .F69 1983
  • in the LC system, works of fiction are assigned call numbers in the same way as nonfiction. However, in this library works of fiction can be found at the end of the Z's in the Fiction collection, shelved alphabetically by the author's last name.

How Are LC Call Numbers Shelved?

Library of Congress call numbers usually have four lines or elements.
The call number for the book Fruits of Merchant Capital by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, published in 1983, has a call number:

HT HT represents social classes
871 871 represents slavery
.F69 .F69 represents the author, Fox-Genovese
1983 1983 represents the year it was published
  • First line: The first line can be either a single or a double letter. If a book's call number begins with a single letter which is the same as the first letter of a call number which begins with a double letter, then the book with the single letter is shelved first, or to the left, on the shelf.
    For example, in the section for the Ns the correct sequence would be N, NA, NB, NC to NX followed by P, PA, PB, etc.
  • Second line: The second line of an LC call number is always a whole number from 1 to 9999. If the letters on the first line of the call number are the same, the book with the smaller number on the second line is shelved to the left of the book with the larger number.
  • Third line: The third line of an LC call number is always a decimal point, followed by a letter and a number. Books are shelved alphabetically according to the letter to the right of the decimal point. For example, a book with .G on the third line of its call number would be shelved to the left of a book with .H. If two books have the same letter on the third line, then the book with the smaller decimal number is shelved to the left of the book with the larger number. For example, .G53 is shelved to the left of .G532 because .53 is a smaller decimal number than .532.
  • Fourth line: The fourth line of an LC call number is always a year of publication or a volume number. An earlier edition of the same work is always shelved to the left of a later edition A lower volume number is shelved to the left of a higher volume number.

In the following outline of Library of Congress classification, the major divisions are indicated by a single letter. The major subjects are subdivided into narrower categories, indicated by a double letter.

Library of Congress Classification

A - General Works

      AC - Collected Works
      AE - Encyclopedias
      AG - Dictionaries and other general reference works
      AI - Indexes
      AM - Museums
      AP - Periodicals
      AS - Academies and Learned Societies
      AY - Yearbooks, Almanacs, Directories
      AZ - History of Scholarship and Learning

B - Philosophy, Psychology, Religion

      B - Philosophy (General)
      BC - Logic
      BD - Speculative Philosophy
      BF - Psychology, Parapsychology, Occultism
      BH - Aesthetics
      BJ - Ethics, Social usages, Etiquette
      BL - Religions, Mythology, Rationalism
      BM - Judaism
      BP - Islam, Bahaism, Theosophy
      BQ - Buddhism
      BR - Christianity (General)
      BS - Bible
      BT - Christianity: Doctrinal Theology
      BV - Christianity: Practical Theology
      BX - Christian Denominations and Sects

C - Auxiliary Sciences of History

      C - General
      CB - History of Civilization and Culture
      CC - Archaeology (General)
      CD - Diplomatics, Archives, Seals
      CE - Technical Chronology, Calendar
      CJ - Numismatics
      CN - Inscriptions, Epigraphy
      CR - Heraldry
      CS - Genealogy
      CT - Biography (General)

D - History - General and Eastern Hemisphere, Old World

      D - History (General)
      DA - Great Britain
      DAW - Central Europe
      DB - Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary
      DC - France
      DD - Germany
      DE - Mediterranean, Greco-Roman World
      DG - Italy
      DH-DJ - The Low Countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg
      DJK - Eastern Europe
      DK - Russia, Poland
      DL - Northern Europe, Scandinavia
      DP - Spain, Portugal DR - Balkan Peninsula, Turkey
      DS - Asia
      DT - Africa
      DU - Oceania, Australia, New Zealand
      DX - Gypsies

E-F: History - Western Hemisphere

      E - America (General) and United States
      F1-F975 - United States (local history)
      F1001-F1140 - Canada
      F1201-F1392 - Mexico
      F1401-3799 - Central and South American, Caribbean

G - Geography, Anthropology, Recreation

      G - Geography (General), Atlases, Maps
      GA - Mathematical Geography, Cartography
      GB - Physical Geography
      GC - Oceanography
      GE - Environmental Science
      GF - Human Ecology
      GN - Anthropology, Ethnology, Ethnography
      GR - Folklore
      GT - Manners and Customs
      GV - Sports, Recreation, Games

H - Social Sciences

      H - General
      HA - Statistics
      HB - Economic Theory
      HC - Economic History and Conditions
      HD - Land, Agriculture, Industry
      HE - Transportation and Communication
      HF - Commerce
      HG - Finance
      HJ - Public Finance
      HM - Sociology
      HN - Social History
      HQ - Social Groups, Family, Marriage, Women
      HS - Societies, Clubs
      HT - Communities, Classes, Races
      HV - Social Pathology, Criminology, Social Services
      HX - Communism, Socialism, Anarchism

J - Political Science

      J - Political legislative and Executive papers, Official Documents
      JA - Collections and General Works
      JC - Political Theory, The state
      JF - Constitutional History - General
      JK - Constitutional History and Administration - United States
      JL - Constitutional History - Canada, Latin America
      JN - Constitutional History - Europe
      JQ - Constitutional History - Asia, Africa, Australia
      JS - Oeania, Local Government
      JV - Colonization, Emigration and Immigration
      JX - International Law, International Relations

K - Law

      K - Law (General)
      KD - United Kingdom and Ireland
      KDZ - America, North America, OAS
      KE - Canada
      KF - United States Law
      KG-KH - Latin America KJ-KK - Europe

L - Education

      L - Education (General)
      LA - History of Education
      LB - Educational Theory and Practice
      LC - Special Aspects
      LD - Individual Educational Institutions - U.S.
      LE - Individual Institutions - Other Americas
      LF - Individual Institutions - Europe
      LG - Individual Isntitutions - Asia, Africa, Oceania LH - College and School Publications
      LJ - Student Fraternities and Societies
      LT - Textbooks (General)

M - Music

      M - General, Music Scores
      ML - Literature of Music
      MT - Music Instruction and Study

N - Fine Arts

      N - Visual Arts (General)
      NA - Architecture
      NB - Sculpture
      NC - Graphic Arts (Drawing, Design, Illustration)
      ND - Painting
      NE - Print Media
      NK - Decorative, Applied Arts
      NX - Arts in general

P - Language and Literature

      P - Linguistics and Philology
      PA - Classical Languages and Literature (Greek and Latin)
      PB - Celtic Languages
      PC - Romance Languages
      PD - Old Germanic, Scandinavian Languages
      PE - English Language
      PF - Dutch, Flemish, German Languages
      PG - Slavic, Baltic, Armenian Languages
      PH - Finno-Ugrian, Basque Languages & Literature
      PJ-PL - Oriental Languages
      PM - American Indian, Artificial Languages
      PN - Literature, Literary History and Collections
      PQ - Romance Literature
      PR - English Literature
      PS - American Literature
      PT - German Literature
      PZ - Children's Literature

Q - Science

      Q - Science (General)
      QA - Mathematics
      QB - Astronomy
      QC - Physics
      QD - Chemistry
      QE - Geology
      QH - Natural History, Biology
      QK - Botany
      QL - Zoology
      QM - Human Anatomy
      QP - Physiology
      QR - Microbiology

R - Medicine

      R - Medicine (General)
      RA - Public Aspects of Medicine
      RB - Pathology
      RC - Internal Medicine
      RD - Surgery
      RE - Ophthalmology
      RG - Gynecology and Obstetrics
      RJ - Pediatrics
      RK - Dentistry
      RL - Dermatology
      RM - Therapeutics, Pharmacology
      RS - Pharmacy and Materia Medica
      RT - Nursing
      RV - Botanic, Thomsonian and Eclectic Medicine
      RX - Homeopathy
      RZ - Other Systems of Medicine

S - Agriculture

      S - Agriculture (General)
      SB - Plant Culture
      SD - Forestry
      SF - Animal Culture
      SH - Aquaculture, Fisheries, Fishing
      SK - Hunting

T - Technology and Engineering

      T - Technology (General)
      TA - Engineering - General and Civil
      TC - Hydraulic Engineering
      TD - Environmental Engineering, Sanitary Engineering
      TE - Highway Engineering
      TF - Railroad Engineering
      TG - Bridge Construction
      TH - Building Construction
      TJ - Mechanical Engineering and machinery
      TK - Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering
      TL - Motor Vehicles, Aeronautics, Astronautics
      TN - Mining and Metallurgy
      TP - Chemical Technology
      TR - Photography
      TS - Manufactures
      TT - Handicrafts, Arts and Crafts
      TX - Home Economics and Cooking

U - Military Science

      U - General
      UA - Armies
      UB - Military Administration
      UC - Maintenance and Transportation
      UD - Infantry
      UE - Calvary
      UF - Artillery
      UG - Military engineering, Air Forces.,Air Warfare
      UH - Other Services

V - Naval Science

      V - General
      VA - Navies
      VB - Naval Administration
      VC - Naval Maintenance
      VD - Naval Seaman
      VE - Marines
      VF - Naval ordnance
      VG - Minor services of navies
      VK - Navigation, Merchant Marine
      VM - Naval architecture, Marine Engineering

Z - History of Books, Library Science, Bibliography