Organized by Subject
Academic libraries organizes items on the shelves by subject. Usually, it's by the first subject listed in a catalog record. This means that books primarily about Mark Twain, will be next to other books about Mark Twain; books primarily about the Civil War, will be next to other books about the Civil War; books about the Gospel of Mark, will be next to other books about the Gospel of Mark, etc. So when you go to the shelf to grab a book, take a look at the books surrounding it - they may be what you're looking for, too!
Reading a Library of Congress Call Number
The first part of a Library of Congress call number is one or two letters. These indicate the subjects. The first letter indicates the broad subject.
The second letter represents a narrower subject and the first number is an even narrow subject.
Let's break down an example:
Extramarital Relations, by Gerhard Neubeck is assigned the call number: HQ806 .N46
H is for social sciences
HQ means family, marriage, and women
HQ806 means adultery
N46 represents the authors last name
There may also be a four digit number after the author, which is the publication year.
So how do you know the order of books on a shelf when their numbers are so similar? Let's look at an example that may help:
These 7 books are in the correct order.
- Letters: Ordered alphabetically - DA (books on the history of England) comes before DC (books on the history of France)
- Numbers: Whole numbers ordered lowest to highest. "DA 90" comes before "DA 332" which comes before "DA 333"
- Letters: Ordered alphabetically
- Numbers: Ordered from lowest to highest