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Research Papers 101: Accessing books & ILL

Locating books, checking them out, and ILL

The Library of Congress Classification System

The books in H.C. Hofheimer II Library (and in most academic libraries in the United States) are organized according to the Library of Congress Classification System

NOTE: Not the Dewey Decimal System; that's the public library!

In the Library of Congress Classification System, books are organized by their subject, or what they are about. Each book is assigned a call number. Each call number begins with up to two letters, followed by a set of numbers that can range from 1-9999. This is followed by a dot called the cutter. After the cutter comes more numbers and letters, further delineating more precise subjects, authors, or different editions of specific works.

NOTE:The call numbers of newer books will often end with their year of publication.

The Library of Congress Classification Schedule provides a summary of what letter sections and call numbers correspond to what subjects. If you click a subject heading, you may notice that many of your results have call numbers that may start with a similar (or identical) sequence of letters and numbers.

NOTE:This is no accident! Because the LC Classification System is organized by subject, books on the same or similar subjects tend to be shelved right next to each other, making it convenient to browse the library's physical holdings on a particular subject.