Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Library of Congress Call Numbers: A Guide for Non-Catalogers Who Suddenly Find Themselves with a Cataloging Job


Published on

A guide for understanding Library of Congress call numbers, to help train new library employees to properly format spine labels for printing and to sort and shelve library materials. Created as a project for Cataloging and Classification class, University of Nebraska at Omaha/University of Missouri, Spring 2013.

Library of Congress Call Numbers: A Guide for Non-Catalogers Who Suddenly Find Themselves with a Cataloging Job

  1. 1. Library of Congress Call Numbers:A Guide for Non-Catalogers WhoSuddenly Find Themselves with aCataloging JobAngela KroegerTED 4740/8746 Cataloging and ClassificationUniversity of Nebraska at Omaha/University of MissouriSpring 2013
  2. 2. The purpose of this guide is to teach the basicstructure of a Library of Congress call number soyou can:• Format spine labels correctly.• Sort and file items accurately.• Recognize when a call number is incompleteor improperly formatted.Classification and constructing new call numbersare beyond the scope of this guide.
  3. 3. Anatomy of a Call Number• The Classification is related tothe subject headings, so thatitems on the same topic will begrouped together on theshelves.• The Cutter is usually derivedfrom the authors name, so thatitems within a classificationwill be alphabetical by author(or by title for edited works).• The Date is usually the date ofpublication (except forconferences, which take theconference date).This call number is for the bookZero: the biography of a dangerous idea,by Charles Seife.QA141 = Numeration, general worksS45 = Seife
  4. 4. Anatomy of a Call Number• Some call numbers havemore than one cutter.• The first cutter isconsidered part of theclassification.• These cutters can mean alot of different things:– Subtopic– Author or artist– Geographic region– Language– Etc.This call number is for the book"I am a man": Chief Standing Bearsjourney for justice, by Joe Starita.E99 = Indians of North America.P7 = PoncaS837 = Starita
  5. 5. Library of Congress Classification Outline
  6. 6. MARC Record Display• Different software may display the subfield delimiter differently,often as a dollar sign ($), pipe ( | ), or double-dagger (‡).• Some library software omits the code $a from display.• The MARC encoding should never be on a printed call numberlabel.
  7. 7. Line Breaks for Spine LabelsThis call number is for The innovation journey of Wi-Fi: the road to global success, edited byWolterLemstra, Vic Hayes and John Groenewegen.
  8. 8. Sometimes it can get a little crazy . . .Yes, this is a real call number in the Criss Library collection at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.This is an audio CD supplement to an issue of The Platte Valley review, shelved separately from the journal.Note that prefixes and suffixes arent used by the Library of Congress, but many libraries add them locally.
  9. 9. Sorting: Take Each Letter or Number in Order• Each alphanumeric character is significant.• Sort letters according to the order of the Englishlanguage alphabet.• Sort dates in ascending chronological order.• Sort volume numbers and ordinals in sequential order.• Sort all other numbers according to mathematics.– The classification number is as it seems.– All cutter numbers are decimals.To elaborate . . .
  10. 10. Sorting: All Cutters Are Decimals• I56 is filed before I7.• S47465 is filed before S837.
  11. 11. Sometimes the Decimal is ImpliedFor various technical or aesthetic reasons, the decimalpoint in front of the first cutter may be omitted from theprinted label. This does not affect the filing order.
  12. 12. Line Breaks Dont Change Sort OrderLikewise, line breaks elsewhere in the call number dontaffect filing. Theyre just for readability, or for fitting thelabel to the width of the books spine.
  13. 13. Sorting: Nothing Before Something• Treat nothingness as an imaginary letter beforeA or a number before 1.• That is, a call number lacking a particularelement is shelved ahead of a call numbercontaining that element.• For example, B before BF.• KFN30.A2 N4 before KFN30.A2 N4 1866.
  14. 14. Just when you think youve got LC call numbersdown, something weird shows up.For example, non-numeric cutters for juvenile materials.This call number is for The lion & the mouse, by Jerry Pinkney.
  15. 15. A date in the middle of the call number?For certain subjects, the date of an event is part of theclassification.This call number is for a book about the 2008 presidential election, Techno politics inpresidential campaigning: new voices, new technologies, and new voters, edited byJohn Allen Hendricks and Lynda Lee Kaid.
  16. 16. An ordinal number?For certain military subjects, the classificationincludes the number of the regiment.This call number is for The Tenth Minnesota Volunteers, 1862-1865: a history of action inthe Sioux Uprising and the Civil War, with a regimental roster, by Michael A. Eggleston.
  17. 17. Work LettersSometimes youll see a lowercase letter after the date.• a means the item is a facsimile.• b, c, d, etc. are assigned to multiple editions of awork published in the same year.• x means the call number wasnt assigned by theLibrary of Congress. Use the call number, but deletethex.• z means the date is uncertain.Clare Lattimore explains work letters in detail: call numbers are for Ready player one, by Ernest Cline, and Predicting the nextpresident: the keys to the White House, by Allan J. Lichtman, respectively.
  18. 18. In Summary . . .• Call numbers serve as physical addresses foran item.• Call numbers also convey some informationabout the items subject and content.• When sorting, file each element in order.• Treat cutter numbers as decimals.• File nothing before something.
  19. 19. ReferencesAmerican Museum and Natural History Research Library. (2013). Library of Congresscall numbers. Retrieved from:, L. M. (2007). Cataloging and classification: An introduction (3rd ed.). Lanham,MD: Scarecrow Press.Edmands, J. (1887, January-December). Rules for alfabeting. The Library Journal, 12,326-331. Retrieved from:, C. (2002). 050 & 090 Library of Congress call numbers. Retrieved from: of Congress. (n.d.). ClassificationWeb. [Data file and online software.]Retrieved from: of Congress. (n.d.). Library of Congress classification outline. Retrieved from: Information Standards Organization. (1999). Guidelines for alphabeticalarrangement of letters and sorting of numerals and other symbols [PDF document].Bethesda, MD: NISO Press. Retrieved from: of Georgia, Board of Regents, Online Library Learning Center. (n.d.). TheLibrary of Congress classification system (LC). Retrieved from: