Library of Congress Tutorial – Call Number and Shelving


After reading the rules by which Library of Congress call numbers are sorted below, you can watch an animated example showing the rules in action. And at the bottom of the page is a link taking you to the tests, where you’ll get to test your understanding of the Library of Congress rules.

  • The first line is always a Letter Line and is filed alphabetically.
  • The second line is a Whole Number line and is filed numerically.
  • Sometimes the second line is decimalized and continued on the same line or on the third line. Anytime you see a decimal point, always take each space separately (do not consider it a whole number).
  • However, generally the third line is a Cutter Line. It begins with a decimal, then a letter. Always read each digit separately in the Cutter Line. Remember if there is a decimal point, take one space at a time. The Cutter Line may also be split on two lines, but when this occurs there is only a decimal point at the very beginning of the Cutter Line.
  • Other lines may include volume numbers, copy numbers, dates or a combination.
  • Letters before numbers.
  • Nothing comes before something.
  • No date comes before a date.
  • Volumes are compared before copies.
  • Copies are compared before dates.
  • x (“little x”) represents 1/2 – it comes after the letters but before numbers.
  • Ignore “Undergrad” or “UrbLib” at the beginning of call numbers – these are old labels from a time where the Library was arranged differently.

Library of Congress Tutorial - examples

Here’s an animated example of some of the LC Rules – just click on the small blue triangle to get started…

And now on to the tests…


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