Hope College Libraries

Library of Congress Classification, aka "LC": Home

This guide introduces users to the Library of Congress classification system.

Getting Help

Don't pull your hair out over a call number. Any library worker is happy to help you find what you're looking for!

Library of Congress - Subject Areas

Library of Congress Outline

The Library of Congress Outline link leads to a quick overview of which Call "letters" go with which Topic.

(You don't need to know this to use the library.)

Get Lost in a Book!

Introduction

Dewey and LC

Most public and some academic libraries use the Dewey system. In Dewey, call numbers consist of NUMBERS.

The Van Wylen Library uses the LC (Library of Congress) system. In LC, call numbers begin with LETTERS.

Note: in LC, the "letters" do NOT mimic the topic. 
For instance, Art books have call numbers that begin with "N."
Science call numbers begin with "Q." 
American Literature (novels, poetry, etc.) call numbers begin with "PS."

This guide will help demystify call numbers and introduce you to how books are arranged in Van Wylen Library.

Sample LC Call Numbers

Some sample titles and their call numbers:

Religion in American Politics
BR516 .L36 2008

Vegan Planet: 400 Irresistible Flavors
TX837 .R6253 2003

Pictorial History of American Sports, from Colonial Times to the Present
GV583 .D85 1973

Anatomy of a Library of Congress Call Number

Reading LC Call Numbers

Call numbers are read line by line. 

1. Read the first line in alphabetical order:

                                  
A, B, BF, C, D, ...L, LB, LC, P, PR ...

2. Read the second line as a whole number:

                                
1, 2, 3, 45, 100, 1000, 4000, 4037 ...

3. The third line is a combination of a letter and one or more numbers. Read the letter alphabetically. Read the number(s) as a decimal.

.J before .K

    .J21 = .21   
.J36 = .36      .K724 = .724      .K72 = .72     .K84 = .84

.21 before .36

.724 before .84

4. Read the date chronologically:
                               
                                      
      1964, 1975, 1998, 2003


Sample Shelf Order:


Want to know more about what the various letter combinations and numbers stand for? This page (Hampshire College) gives a helpful overview.

Links to exercises on LC Call Numbers

Test yourself with this quick game of "drag and drop."

This game asks you to "drag" books into call number order.

Research/Instruction Librarians

Van Wylen Library