Skip to main content

Library of Congress Classification System: LC Classification System

An explanation of the Library of Congress Classification System, which the Wilkens Library uses to organize our collection.

What is a Call Number

The call number of a book is its "address" in the library.  The LCC call number is an alpha-numeric string and is unique for each book in our library.  For example, the call number for The Student Evaluation Standards by the Joint Committee on Educational Evaluation is LB3051 .J575 2003 and on the book's spine it may look like this:

LB3051

.J575

2003

The "LB" designates the LCC subclass of "Theory and Practice of Education." 

The next number string helps identify the book.  It may or may not include decimals.  In this example, 3051 falls into the group 3050-3060.87--"Educational tests, measurements, evaluations, and examinations."

The third set of characters beginning with a period followed by a letter is the "Cutter Number" named after George Ammi Cutter and it typically identifies the author, but can also identify the title, publisher, etc.  If there is more than one "Cutter Number," only the first number will begin with a period. 

The fourth set of numbers is the year of publication.  If the work is in more than one volume, there will be another number to indicate the volume number. 

What is the Library of Congress Classification System?

You may be familiar with the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) used to organize and arrange books in many school and public libraries.  Most academic libraries, however, use the Library of Congress Classification System (LCC).  This system was developed by the Library of Congress to organize and arrange its vast holdings.  The LCC system has 21 classes of information represented by letters of the alphabet.  Most classes are divided into subsections with a two or three letter combination.  For example, Class "L" is Education and it is divided into 10 subclasses such as "L" for General Education, "LA" for the History of Education, "LB" for Theory and Practice of Education, and so on.

The 21 Classes are shown below.  Classes A-J can be found on the second floor, while K-Z can be found on the third floor of the Wilkens Library

  • A--General Works (Almanacs and Encyclopedias)
  • B--Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion
    • BD--Philosophy
    • BF--Psychology
    • BL-Mythology
    • BM-BX Religion
  • C--Auxillary Sciences of History
  • D--World History and the History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
  • E--History of Americas
  • F--History of Americas
  • G--Geography, Anthropology, and Recreation
    • GV Athletics, Games, and Recreation
  • H--Social Sciences
    • H-HL Business & Economics
    • HV Criminal Justice
  • J--Political Science
  • K--Law
  • L--Education
  • M--Music and Books on Music
  • N--Fine Arts
  • P--Language and Literature
  • Q--Science and Computers
  • R--Medicine, Nursing
    • RC--Internal Medicine
  • S--Agriculture
  • T--Technology
  • U--Military Science
  • V--Naval Science
  • Z--Bibliography, Library Science, and Information Resources

For more information about the Classes and Subclasses, visit the Library of Congress Classification website.

 Content of this guide is based on a similar guide by Lauren Hays, Instructional and Research Librarian at MidAmerica Nazarene University.