Understanding Call Numbers
The Library of Congress Classification System
The Lawrence W. Tyree Library arranges its books by the Library of Congress Classification System (LC). This is the system used by most academic libraries (including the University of Florida) and works on a system of letters denoting broad subjects, further divided by numbers as the subject gets more specific.
Below is a quick guide to the LC subject areas. To see how the areas are set up, click on any of the topics.
+ A - General Works
|AC||Collections, Series, Collected works.|
|AG||Dictionaries and other general reference works.|
|AM||Museums. Collectors and collecting.|
|AS||Academies and learned societies (General).|
|AY||Yearbooks. Almanacs. Directories.|
|AZ||History of scholarship and learning. The Humanities.|
+ B - Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
|BF||Psychology, Parapsychology, Occult sciences.|
|BJ||Ethics. Social usages. Etiquette.|
|BP||Islam, Bahai, Theosophy.|
+ C - Auxiliary Sciences of History
|CB||History of civilization.|
+ D - World History: General and Outside the Americas
|D||World History, including World Wars.|
|DD - DZ||Other European countries.|
+ E - History: United States
|E 11 - 143||America, Pre Revolutionary War.|
|E 184 - 185||Population (Including African American history).|
|E 201 -298||Revolutionary War.|
|E 456 - 655||Civil War.|
|E 780||World War I.|
|E 806 - 812||Franklin Roosevelt's administration (Including WW II).|
|E 855- 861||Watergate.|
+ F - History: United States (Local) and the Americas
|F 1 - 950||U.S. regions and states.|
|F 306 - 320||Florida history.|
|F 975||Central America.|
|F 1001 - 1139||Canada.|
|F 1201 - 3799||Latin America.|
+ G - Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
+ H - Social Sciences
|HB - HJ||Economics.|
|HF 5381 - 5386||Vocational guidance. Career development.|
|HQ||Family, Marriage, Women.|
|HS||Societies: secret, benevolent, etc.|
|HT||Communities. Classes. Races.|
|HV||Social Pathology, Criminology.|
|HX||Socialism. Communism. Anarchism.|
+ J - Political Science
|JA - JC||Political science.|
|JF - JQ||Constitutional history and public administration.|
+ K - Law
|K||Law in general.|
+ L - Education
|LA||History of education.|
|LB||Theory and practice of education.|
|LD||Individual institutions - United States.|
+ M - Music
|ML||Literature of Music.|
+ N - Fine Arts
+ P - Language and Literature
|PA||Classical languages and literature.|
|PD - PF||Germanic languages, Including English (PE).|
|PJ - PL||Oriental languages and literature.|
|PN||Literature, drama, radio, television, film.|
+ Q - Science
|QA 75 - 76||Computer hardware & software.|
+ R - Medicine
+ S - Agriculture
|SB||Plant culture and horticulture.|
|SH||Fish culture and fisheries.|
+ T - Technology
|TK||Electrical engineering and computer engineering.|
|TL||Motor vehicles, aeronautics, astronautics.|
U - Military Science
V - Naval Science
Z - Library Science
This list is not inclusive, but merely designed to reflect the subjects held at the Santa Fe College Library. For a full list of subjects covered by the LC system please view the Library of Congress Classification Outline online.
To be able to efficiently read Library of Congress (LC) call numbers is quite a skill. This tutorial was created to help library users uncover the mysteries of call number reading. Let's start with a sample call number:
RJ245 .P426 2000
Call numbers can begin with one, two, or three letters.
- The first letter of a call number represents one of the 21 major divisions of the LC System. In the example, the subject "R" is Medicine.
second letter "J" represents a subdivision of medicine, Pediatrics.
All books in the RJ's are primarily about pediatrics.
- Books in categories E, United States History, and F, Local U.S. History and American History, do not have a second letter (exception: in Canada, FC is used for Canadian history).
- Books about Law, K's, can have three letters, such as KFF, Law of Florida. Some areas of history (D) also have three-letter call numbers.
- Most other subject areas will have call numbers beginning with one or two letters.
- For most of the subject areas, the single letter represents books of a general nature for that subject area (i.e. Q - General Science or D - General World History).
Numbers after letters.
- The first set of numbers in a call number help to define a book's subject.
- "245" in the example teaches us more about the book's subject. The range RJ 245-247 are books about nursing of children and pediatric nursing.
- The cutter number is a coded representation of the author or organization's name or the title of the work (also known as the "Main Entry" in library-lingo). This is usually a decimal point and a letter followed by a group of numbers.
- In our above example, RJ 245 .P426 2000, the P426 represents the title of the work Pediatric Nursing.
books have two Cutters, the first one is usually a further breakdown
of the subject matter.
example, RT 120 .F34 C37 1989 is a book located in the medical
- RT is about Nursing.
- The "120" indicates specialties in nursing.
- ".F34" tells us that this is about family nursing - case studies.
- "C37" represents the title of the book.
- The book is Case studies in the nursing of children and families : hospital, community, and home care
- For example, RT 120 .F34 C37 1989 is a book located in the medical section, R's.
Years, Supplements, Copies etc.
last lines on a call number often represent copyright information,
volume information, copy information etc.
- For example in the last line of our call number RJ 245 .P426 2000, we see that the book was published in 2000.
- If this was a multi-volume set, the call number would end with v. 1, v. 2, etc.
Items are shelved by call numbers - in both alphabetical and numerical order. The letters at the beginning of the call number are alphabetical. The numbers immediately following are in basic numerical order, i.e. 5 then 6, 50 is after 49 and before 51, and 100 is after 99. Thus,
The cutter numbers (A3, A31, Z4, C3, and A2 in the above example) are sorted first by the letter and then by the number as a decimal. The main thing to remember with this number is that the dot really does work as a decimal place, so that .A1002 comes before .A9. Therefore,
Dates, volume and issue numbers, copy numbers, and other annotations are like an additional cutter number but are shelved by basic alphabetization (numbers alone come before letters):