How to Read LIbrary of Congress Call Numbers Tutorial

How to Read LIbrary of Congress Call Numbers Tutorial


Solving the Mystery of Library Call
Numbers: An Introduction to Understanding Library of Congress Call
Numbers. Call numbers and library catalog records: each material in the library has
its own unique call number. It appears in a library’s online catalog.
Understanding the call numbers in the classification system will make it much
easier for you to retrieve library materials. The call number is also
attached to the spine of the book as well as being visible in other places. It
is like an address that tells you where the library material is located and it
also provides the information such as the subject, first letter of the author’s
last name, and the year of publication. In the Smith Library, the call numbers are
signed according to the Library of Congress Classification System. This is
an alphanumeric system consisting of both letters and numbers which groups
books by subject categories. Books are then arranged on the shelf by their call
numbers in alphanumeric order. In this classification system, materials are
broken down into 21 general subject areas. Each subject area is represented
by a letter as indicated in the chart to the right. These 21 subject areas are
further divided into specific subcategories identified by two or three
letter combinations. The subcategories under Philosophy, Psychology and Religion are listed at the right as an example. The subcategories are further divided
into several subdivisions of subjects. These subdivisions are represented by
numbers. Every call number begins with one to three letters. For example B or BT. The first line of the call number
describes the general subject area. In the example to the right, the letters BT
represent doctrinal theology. If you’re looking for books on this particular
subject, you will find them in the BT section. The second line number
represents the narrow subject area and is read as a whole number. The specific
number 966.2 in BT represents theology relating to angels. The third
line is called the cutter number. This usually indicates the author and is a
letter number combination. For example, Smith could be S6 and Graham could be G7. The last number, if present, is the year of publication. Sometimes the final line
is a Vol. or C dot. Vol. represents which number that particular book is in a
series of books while the C plus a number represents additional copies of
the same book. Items are arranged alphabetically. All BR numbers are
together after BP and before BS. All B’s come after all combinations of A and
before all combinations of C. When you are looking for an item always start
with the top line of the call number.

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