Skip to main content
Banner Image

Life Hack: Library Research: Library of Congress

Finding Books in the Library

Library of Congress Classification:

Finding Books on the Shelf

Books in the library are organized by a classification scheme called Library of Congress. You may be more familiar with Dewey Decimal Classification that's often used in public libraries and in schools, so we have included a description of Library of Congress (LC) and how it works.

Each book has a call number that identifies its unique position on the shelf. This is indicated on a small white sticker at the base of the book's spine, and is organized by subject.

  1. The first portion of the call number is letters that indicate the subject of the text. For example, "P" is the code for language and literature. These are arranged alphabetically on the shelf, so you'll find A before E.
  2. The second portion is made of numbers, and these are arranged sequentially within the subject area. For example, this would be the order of items on the shelf:
    • PR 39
    • PR 3633
    • PR 3633.9
  3. The third portion is composed of a letter and decimal number. These are arranged alphabetically and then sequentially. For example:
    • PR 3633 .A35
    • PR 3633 .A4
    • PR 3633 .D6

Different editions of the same title are distinguished by the year of publication, which is listed at the end of the call number. These are shelved in sequential order.

Visit the Library of Congress website for a full list of the subjects.

5729 Fogler Library · University of Maine · Orono, ME 04469-5729 ; (207) 581-1673

Chat is offline. Contact the library.