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Understanding Library of Congress Call Numbers

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A majority of books that you will come across in Killam Library are organized according to the  Library of Congress Classification System. Each book in Killam Library will have a call number. Call number labels are typically located on the lower part of the spine of the book. Some materials will have additional markings as part of the call number to denote their location. For example, reference materials will have REF above the call number label.

Think of the call number as the book's address on the shelf. The first line in a Library of Congress call number classifies the item by its subject according to the LC Classification System. The entire call number should be noted in order to locate the item.

  • LC call numbers are first arranged alphabetically, according to the letter or letters at the beginning of the call number, which correspond to the subject matter of the item.
    • Example: Call numbers beginning with D are followed by DA, DB, DC, etc.
  • Within the alphabetical section, books are arranged by the number(s) that follow. Notice that these numbers are regarded as whole numbers. For instance, DS 1200 comes after DS 345. Example: BA 56 before BA 234 before BA 234.57 before BA 234.8
  • The next lines are alphabetic, then numeric as a decimal. The numerical part of this section is a decimal number, not a whole number. Use alphabetical order first, then the decimal extension to put the call numbers in correct sequence. (B3113 would come before B4, because 0.3113 is smaller than 0.4.)
    • Example: HV 1431 .B7 before HV 1431 .B83 before HV 1431 .F25 before HV 1431 .F7
  • Editions are often arranged by date or by the date and letters.
    • Example: PS 3525 .I52 1971 before PS 3525 .I52 1973 before PS 3525 .I52 1973a

Listed below are the letters and titles of the main classes of the Library of Congress Classification.

Classification Detailed List
A - General Works View Detailed List
B - Philosophy, Psychology, & Religion View Detailed List
C - Auxillary Sciences of History  View Detailed List
D - World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Etc. View Detailed List
E - History of the Americas  View Detailed List 
F - History of the Americas  View Detailed List 
G - Geography, Anthropology, & Recreation View Detailed List 
H - Social Sciences View Detailed List 
J - Political Science  View Detailed List 
K - Law View Detailed List
L - Education View Detailed List 
M - Music and Books on Music  View Detailed List 
N - Fine Arts  View Detailed List 
P - Languages & Literature View Detailed List 
Q - Science View Detailed List 
R - Medicine View Detailed List 
S - Agriculture  View Detailed List 
T - Technology View Detailed List 
U - Military Science  View Detailed List 
V - Naval Science View Detailed List 
Z - Bibliography, Library Science, Information Sources (General) View Detailed List


You can also

  • discover call number locations in the library book stacks with interactive maps
  • virtually browse the library book stacks in the library catalog, after doing a book search

Library Information

Sue & Radcliffe Killam Library
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