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Library of Congress Classification

About Library of Congress Classification

Most of Randall Library's physical materials, like books, are arranged according to the Library of Congress Classification System. This system, which is used by most academic libraries, organizes materials by the topic or subject of their content. Each item is assigned an individual call number according to its subject area, and items are placed on the shelf in call number order.

Below is a guide to reading Library of Congress (LC) call numbers. Please feel free to visit the Research Help Desk or contact a librarian if you need help finding an item!

The left-hand tabs contain a list of the Library of Congress Classification system by general topic area.

Reading Library of Congress Call Numbers

  1. Every Library of Congress (LC) call number begins with one to three letters, followed by various combinations of whole numbers, decimal numbers, and/or letters. Sometimes at the end of the call number will be a year, a volume number, and a copy number.
  2. Items are arranged in alpha-numeric order, with single-letter call numbers shelved ahead of multiple letter call numbers with the same first letter.
    Thus, H40 comes before HA1.
  3. Numbers to the left of the decimal point in LC call numbers are whole numbers.
    Thus, HF54 (HF Fifty-four) comes before HF5381 (HF Five-thousand, three-hundred, eight-one).
  4. Numbers to the right of the decimal point in LC call numbers are decimal numbers.
    Thus, HF5381 .M37 (M Thirty-seven hundredths) comes before HF5381 .M5 (M Five-tenths or Fifty-hundredths).

The following call numbers are in correct shelf order for the reasons given:

  • GV1787 .D513
  • H40 .A2 I5 - H comes after G alphabetically
  • HA1 .D3 1989 - HA comes after H
  • HA1 .D3 1990 1990 - comes after 1989
  • HF54 .U5 P74 - HF comes after HA
  • HF5381 .E52 - 5,381 is larger than 54
  • HF5381 .M37 - M comes after E
  • HF5381 .M5 - .5 (.50) is larger than .37
  • HF5415 .S272 - 5,415 is larger than 5,381
  • HF5415.1263 .B46 - 5415.126 is larger than 5415 (5415.0000)
  • HF5415.2 .S89 - .2(.2000) is larger than .1263