Skip to main content

Lamson Library

Today's hours:  
(full hours)

Library User Guide

This guide will introduce you to the very basics of using the Library.

Library of Congress Classification System

Materials in the library are organized using the Library of Congress Classification System.  It is similar to the Dewey Decimal system used in many school libraries, but is better suited for a larger collection.  Subject areas are assigned letters instead of numbers. Below is a general guide to the system.   Click on each topic area to see more specific subject assignments.  

Letter Subject area
A General Works
B Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion
C Auxiliary Sciences of History
D General and Old World History
E History of America
F History of the United States and British, Dutch, French, and Latin America
G Geography, Anthropology, and Recreation
H Social Sciences
J Political Science
K Law
L Education
M Music
N Fine Arts
P Language and Literature
Q Science
R Medicine
S Agriculture
T Technology
U Military Science
V Naval Science
Z Bibliography, Library Science, and General Information Resources

Making Sense of a Call Number

A call number may look complicated so let's break it down for you. Here is a call number from a book in the Library catalog:

GV 875 .B62 W53 2011

When the Red Sox ruled:  Baseball's First Dynasty, 1912-1918 by Thomas J. Whalen

G                              Geography, Anthropology, Recreation

GV                            Recreation, Leisure

GV 861-1017              Ball games, baseball, football, golf, etc.

GV 875 .B                  Individual clubs and other leagues, By name, A-Z (B is for Boston!)

Each LC call number begins with one to three letters andn is followed by a series of numbers.  LC call numbers are organized alphabetically, starting with the first letter on the left.  They are then organized numerically according to the numbers that follow.  


Using a LC Call Number to Find a Book (or DVD, etc.)

Books are arranged alphabetically.  The first letter of a call number indicates the general class the call number falls within.  For example, our book on the Red Sox, the book is located under G where books on geography, anthropology, and recreation are classes.  If there are second or third letters, these indicate a more specific class.  In our example, GV indicates Recreation.

Numbers follow the letters. The numbers define the subject of the book.  In our example, 875 refers to books on baseball history on a specific team such as the Boston Red Sox.

The Cutter Number is the next set of numbers but you don't have to know too much about them. (If you are curious, Ask a Librarian)!

The edition of a volume is the next part of the call number.  The year of publication follows the Cutter number to indicated the edition.  Our book, for example, was published in 2011.

Follow this example to see the order in which material will appear on the shelf.  

lc on shelf

(image courtesy of the University Library, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)