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Chapter 15. Library of Congress Classification

Chapter Outline

  • Introduction

  • History

  • Basic Principles and Structure

  • Notation

  • Evaluation of the Library of Congress Classification

  • The Schedules: Revision and Publication Patterns

  • Applying the Library of Congress Classification: Instructions and Examples

  • Tables

Key Takeaways

Chapter 15 covers the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system. Although LCC was originally designed for the LC collection, it has been adopted by most large academic and research libraries, as well as by some large public libraries in the USA and many libraries worldwide.


The LCC consists of twenty-one top classes. These classes represent disciplines; therefore, LCC is a classification by discipline. Although it is used by many research and academic libraries, the special needs of the Library of Congress, as the library for the USA Congress, are still reflected in the top classes. For example, Military Science (U) and Naval Science (V).


The LCC is a hierarchical classification dividing classes from broad to more specific. It is also a very enumerative system. Any cases of number building or synthesis are applicable only to a specific class or a smaller portion of the system.


LCC uses an alphanumeric notation; a mixed notation of letters and Arabic numerals. The main classes are represented by a single letter and most subclasses are represented by double or triple letters. Divisions within subclasses are represented by Arabic numbers from 1 to 9999 (as integers) with possible decimal extension, and/or with further subdivision indicated by Cutter numbers (a combination of a capital letter and one or more numerals), at which point alphabetical sub-arrangement is introduced. Therefore, the notation is not always indicative of the hierarchical position of a class number within the individual class. 


There are two types of tables in LCC: (1) tables of general application, such as the biography, translation, and geographic tables, and (2) tables of limited application, which either apply to a whole class or subclass or are used with specific spans of numbers the other (tables for internal sub-arrangement).


Similar to LCSH, LCC is used in conjunction with a manual, the Classification and Shelflisting Manual (CSM).

Call numbers

The LCC has a specified system for the construction of call numbers. In the majority of the cases, this is done by combining the class number from LCC, a Cutter number representing the work/item based on LC Cutter tables (CSM instruction sheet G 63), and the date of publication, manufacture, etc.

Chapter References/Notes

  1. Maltby, A. (1975). Sayers’ manual of classification for librarians (5th ed.). London, England: Andre Deutsch (p. 175).

  2. Vizine-Goetz, D. (1999). Using library classification schemes for Internet resources. OCLC Internet Cataloging Project Colloquium Position Paper. Retrieved from -goetz.htm

  3. Koch, T. (1999). The role of classification schemes in Internet resource description and discovery. Retrieved from

  4. McKiernan, G. (1995). CyberStacks(sm): A ‘Library-Organized’ virtual science and technology reference collection. Reference and Instruction Publications and Papers. 29. _pubs/29

  5. Hanson, J. C. M. (1929). The Library of Congress and its new catalogue: Some unwritten history. In W. W. Bishop & A. Keogh (Eds.), Essays offered to Herbert Putnam by his colleagues and friends on his thirtieth anniversary as Librarian of Congress: 5 April 1929. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (pp. 186–187).

  6. LaMontagne, L. E. (1961). American library classification with special reference to the Library of Congress. Hamden, CT: Shoe String Press (p. 254).

  7. Maltby, 1975, p. 180.

  8. Maltby, 1975, p. 187, 174–189.

  9. Mills, J. (1967). A modern outline of library classification. London, UK: Chapman & Hall, Ltd. (pp. 89–102).

  10. Foskett, A. C. (1982). The subject approach to information (4th ed.). Hamden, CT: Linnet Books (pp. 409–417).

  11. Maltby, 1975, p. 187.

  12. Library of Congress. (2013a). G055: Call numbers. In Classification and shelflisting manual. Retrieved from

  13. Library of Congress. (2014a). Classification and shelflisting manual. Retrieved from

  14. Library of Congress. (2014b). G300: Regions and countries table. In Classification and shelflisting manual. Retrieved from

  15. Library of Congress. (2013b). G302: U.S. states and Canadian provinces. In Classification and shelflisting manual. Retrieved from

  16. Library of Congress. (2013c). G320: Biography. In Classification and shelflisting manual. Retrieved from


Additional Readings

Here, you will find readings specific to the contents of this chapter.

You may find more readings about similar topics on the Cataloging and Classification Web Resources page

Library of Congress Classification

Cutter Tables
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