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Library of Congress (LC) Call Numbers   Tags: call numbers, library, library classification, library_catalog, library_terminology, subject headings  

Want to know about Library of Congress Call Numbers and how they are utilized at the LBCC libraries?
Last Updated: Dec 9, 2010 URL: http://lbcc.libguides.com/lcclassification Print Guide RSS Updates
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Library Terminology

What is a Library of Congress Call Number?

Both the LAC and PCC libraries use the Library of Congress Call Number and the "generic" call number systems to classify items. A Library of Congress call number is the combination of letters and numbers assigned to each item (book, CD, DVD, audio or videocassette) acquired by a library before it is filed on the shelves. The call number is printed on a white label and placed either on the spine or on the cover of the item. Every book has a unique call number, much like every house in a city has its own address. A Library of Congress call number places an item in its subject area. You may locate call numbers in the library's online catalog. You must copy the entire call number in order to locate the item on the shelf.

These are examples of LC call numbers:

LB
1631
.S686
1994
QA
76.76
.H94
C36
1997 

REFERENCE DESK
ref
PE
1591
.K54
1993 

ref
TX
341.2
.N88
1997

Reading LC call numbers


The LC Classification Systems is used at the Library of Congress and in most academic and research libraries in the United States and Canada. This system uses the alphabet to place items in their subject areas. The LC System organizes materials into twenty-one major divisions, from A to Z, but missing I, O, W and Y.

All call numbers begin with either one, two or three letters, followed by numbers. Books in categories E and F do not have a second letter. Books in categories K, the law section, can have as many as three letters -- KFA, KFC, KFM, etc. All other categories, such as B, H, L, M, P, etc. can have up to tow letters - BF, HF, HM, HV, MN, PS, PZ, etc.

This is an example of an LC call number as it appears in the online catalog:


HV9104 .J833 1997

On the book, the above call number is printed on a white label and placed on either the book spine or the front cover and looks like this:

HV
9104
.J833
1997

The letter(s) and the first set of numbers together are considered the "subject number." The first letter of all LC call numbers represents one of the twenty-one major divisions of the LC Classification System. The letter "H" is for "social sciences."

The second letter "V" represents a subdivision of the social sciences-social pathology/social and public welfare & criminology. All books in the HV section are primarily about social welfare & criminology.

The numbers 9104 tell us more about the subject matter of the book. Books with the call number HV9104 deal specifically with the subject of "juvenile delinquency."

The next line represents either the book's author or the title. In the above example, .J833 represents the title of the book, Juvenile crime: opposing viewpoints.

Some books have longer or more extensive LC call numbers. This is true when there is a need to further group the book in its subject matter, for example, QA76.76 .H94 C36 1997. In general the "Q" section is for science. "QA" is for mathematics. "QA76" is the section for computer science. The ".76" is for "special topics in automation." "H94" is for Hypertext systems (HTML) - tells us specifically what the special topic is. C36 represents the last name of the first author (this book has two authors), followed by the year of copyright. The book is: Teach yourself dynamic HTML in a week by Bruce Campbell and Rick Darnell. The call number lable on the book would appear like this:

QA
76.76
.H94
C36
1997

Locating books with LC call numbers on the shelves

Books are shelved by call numbers in alpha-numerical order. The letters at the beginning of the call number are alphabetical. The numbers immediately following are in numerical order, 75 before 120; 8 before 51; 1000 before 1000.5 as shown in the following examples:


Start with the first line (letters)

BF => HV => KF => KFC => LA => LB => LC => LD => PZ => QA => Z


Then go to the second line (numbers)

LA1524 => LB1525 => LB1525.48 => LB1525.5 => LB1525.75 => LB1525.8 => LB1526

LA
1524
LB
1525
LB
1525.48
LB
1525.5
LB
1525.75
LB
1525.8
LB
1526

LB1525.48 comes before LB1525.5 and LB1525.75 because .48 is smaller than .5 which is smaller than .75.


The third line is sorted first by the letter and then by the number, as a decimal, not a whole number.

LB
1525
.C748
LB
1525
.C75
LB
1525
.C8

.C748 comes before => .C75 comes before => .C8

 

The last line of a call number is usually, but not always, date of publication or copyright, the copy or volume number, or other annotations. Editions are arranged by date or by the date and letters following the date.

LB
1525
.C748
1979
LB
1525
.C748
1979b
LB
1525
.C748
1979b
Suppl.
LB
1525
.C748
1980
LB
1525
.C748
1991

1979 comes before => 1979b => 1979b Suppl. => 1980 => 1991

 

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