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Finding Books Using Library of Congress Classification

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How Call Numbers Work

Book shelf showing call numbers

What does the call number mean?

The Library of Congress Classification arranges materials by subjects. The first sections of the call number represent the subject of the book. The letter-and-decimal section of the call number often represents the author's last name. And, as you recall, the last section of a call number is often the date of publication. example:

call number example

Because books are classified by subject, you can often find several helpful books on the same shelf, or nearby. For example, within the same call number LB2395, there are other guides for college study.

Second Call number exxample with titles

A Brief Outline of Library of Congress Classification

A-AZ General Works
Encyclopedias, almanacs, general indexes
B-BX Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
BD Philosophy
BF Psychology
BL-BX Religion
C-CT Auxiliary Sciences of History
CC Archaeology
CS Genealogy
CT Biography
D-DX General and Old World History
Includes geography and description of regions and countries
DA-DR Europe
DK Soviet Union
DS Asia
DT Africa
E-F History: Americas
E North American
F United States local history, Latin America
G-GV Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
G Geography, atlases
GE Environmental sciences
GN Anthropology
GR Folklore
GV Sports, dance, games
H-HX Social Sciences
H General social sciences
HA Statistics
HB Economics
HC Economic conditions
HD Industry, labor
HE Transportation, communication
HF Business, commerce
HG Finance
HM Sociology
HQ Family, marriage, aged, women, sexuality
HT Communities, cities, races
HV Criminology, drug abuse
HX Socialism, communism, anarchism, utopias
J Political Science
JF Constitutional history
JK United States
JS Local government
JX International law, world peace
K Law
KF United States law
KFC California law
L Education
M Music
N-NX Art
NA Architecture
NB Sculpture
NC Drawing, design, illustration
ND Painting
NK Arts, crafts
P-PZ Language and Literature
P Philology, linguistics, communication
PA Classical languages, literature
PC Romance languages, literature
PE English dictionaries, thesauri
PF German, Dutch
PG Russian
PL Far eastern languages
PN Drama, poetry, radio broadcasts, movies, television, journalism
PQ Romance literature
PR English literature
PS American literature
PZ Fiction in English
Q-QR Science
Q General science
QA Mathematics, computer science
QB Astronomy
QC Physics
QD Chemistry, biochemistry
QE Geology
QH Natural history
QK Botany
QL Zoology
R Medicine
RA Public aspects of medicine
RC Practice of medicine
RD Surgery
RJ Pediatrics
RM Therapeutics, drugs
RS Pharmacy
S-SK Agriculture
SB Plant culture
SD Forestry
T-TX Technology
TA Engineering
TL Motor vehicles, aeronautics
TR Photography
TX Home economics
U Military Science
V Naval Science
Z Bibliography, library science

A fuller description of the classification system is available from the Library of Congress.

This page was compiled from guides created by the University of Maryland and the University of Hawaii.

Long Descriptions of Images in this Document

Description for call number image 1

Four books are shown on a shelf. The call numbers for each book, reading from left to right are

  1. B3 .C3
  2. B3 .D4
  3. BC15.5 .A25
  4. BC15.5 .A3

The text underneath the books explains how to find call numbers on the shelf.

  1. Books are shelved alphabetically by the first letter or letters
  2. Books are then arranged numerically by the number following the letter or letters.
  3. Finally, books are shevled alphabetically by the next letter and decimally by the following number.

Description for call number image 2

The image is in two columns. On the left side is a picture of a book whose title is What you need to Know About Developing Study Skills, Taking Notes & Tests, Unist Dictionaries & Libraries. The author is Coman, Marcia J. The call number is LB2395.C65 1991.

On the right side is a picture of that call number with the description:

  1. The first two lines describe the subject of the book; that is, LB2395 equals the subject area Methods of Study in Higher Education.
  2. The next line, .C65, often represents the author's last name. .C65 equals Coman
  3. The last line, 1991, is the year the book was published.

Description for call number image 3

The third image illustrates how books are organized on the shelf first by the subject of the book, next by its location with in that subject area, normally by author but sometimes by title.

  1. LB2395 .C6 1960 for title A Student's Guide to Efficient Study by Luella Cole
  2. LB2395 .C65 1991 no title given
  3. LB2395 .L447 for title Keys to College Success by Minnette Lenier
  4. LB2395 .P54 1983 for title A Successful Student's Handbook by Rita Phipps