Library of Congress Classification

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Short description: System of library classification developed by the United States Library of Congress

The Library of Congress Classification (LCC) is a system of library classification developed by the Library of Congress in the United States, which can be used for shelving books in a library. It is used by most research and academic libraries in the U.S. and several other countries.[1]

LCC should not be confused with LCCN, the system of Library of Congress Control Numbers assigned to all books (and authors), which also defines URLs of their online catalog entries, such as "42037605" and "".[lower-alpha 1] The Classification is also distinct from Library of Congress Subject Headings, the system of labels such as "Boarding schools" and "Boarding schools—Fiction" that describe contents systematically.[lower-alpha 2] Finally, the classifications may be distinguished from the call numbers assigned to particular copies of books in the collection, such as "PZ7.J684 Wj 1982 FT MEADE Copy 1" where the classification is "PZ7.J684 Wj 1982".[lower-alpha 3]

The classification was developed by James Hanson (chief of the Catalog Department), with assistance from Charles Martel, in 1897.[2] With advice from Charles Ammi Cutter, it was influenced by his Cutter Expansive Classification, the Dewey Decimal System, and the Putnam Classification System (developed while Putnam was head librarian at the Minneapolis Public Library).[3] It was designed specifically for the purposes and collection of the Library of Congress to replace the fixed location system developed by Thomas Jefferson. By the time Putnam departed from his post in 1939, all the classes except K (Law) and parts of B (Philosophy and Religion) were well developed.

LCC has been criticized for lacking a sound theoretical basis; many of the classification decisions were driven by the practical needs of that library rather than epistemological considerations.[4] Although it divides subjects into broad categories, it is essentially enumerative in nature. That is, it provides a guide to the books actually in one library's collections, not a classification of the world.

In 2007 The Wall Street Journal reported that in the countries it surveyed most public libraries and small academic libraries used the older Dewey Decimal Classification system.[1]

The National Library of Medicine classification system (NLM) uses the initial letters W and QSQZ, which are not used by LCC. Some libraries use NLM in conjunction with LCC, eschewing LCC's R for Medicine. Others use LCC's QPQR schedules and include Medicine R.[clarification needed][5][6]


Java programming books in the QA subclass.
Letter Subject area
A General Works
B Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
C Auxiliary Sciences of History
D World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.
E History of America
F History of the Americas
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

Class A – General Works

  • Subclass AC – Collections. Series. Collected works
  • Subclass AE – Encyclopedias
  • Subclass AG – Dictionaries and other general reference works
  • Subclass AI – Indexes
  • Subclass AM – Museums. Collectors and collecting
  • Subclass AN – Newspapers
  • Subclass AP – Periodicals
  • Subclass AS – Academies and learned societies
  • Subclass AY – Yearbooks. Almanacs. Directories
  • Subclass AZ – History of scholarship and learning. The humanities

Class B – Philosophy, Psychology, Religion

Class C – Auxiliary Sciences of History

Class D – World History and History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

  • Subclass D – History (General)
  • Subclass DA – Great Britain
  • Subclass DAW – Central Europe
  • Subclass DB – Austria – Liechtenstein – Hungary – Czechoslovakia
  • Subclass DC – France – Andorra – Monaco
  • Subclass DD – Germany
  • Subclass DE – Greco-Roman World
  • Subclass DF – Greece
  • Subclass DG – Italy – Malta
  • Subclass DH – Low Countries – Benelux Countries
  • Subclass DJ – Netherlands (Holland)
  • Subclass DJK – Eastern Europe (General)
  • Subclass DK – Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics – Poland
  • Subclass DL – Northern Europe. Scandinavia
  • Subclass DP – Spain – Portugal
  • Subclass DQ – Switzerland
  • Subclass DR – Balkan Peninsula
  • Subclass DS – Asia
  • Subclass DT – Africa
  • Subclass DU – Oceania (South Seas)
  • Subclass DX – Romanies

Class E – History of America

  • Class E does not have any subclasses.

Class F – Local History of the Americas

  • Class F does not have any subclasses, however Canadian Universities and the Canadian National Library use FC for Canadian History, a subclass that the LC has not officially adopted, but which it has agreed not to use for anything else[7][8]

Class G – Geography, Anthropology, Recreation

  • Subclass G – Geography (General). Atlases. Maps
  • Subclass GA – Mathematical geography. Cartography
  • Subclass GB – Physical geography
  • Subclass GC – Oceanography
  • Subclass GE – Environmental Sciences
  • Subclass GF – Human ecology. Anthropogeography
  • Subclass GN – Anthropology
  • Subclass GR – Folklore
  • Subclass GT – Manners and customs (General)
  • Subclass GV – Recreation. Leisure

Class H – Social Sciences

  • Subclass H – Social sciences (General)
  • Subclass HA – Statistics
  • Subclass HB – Economic theory. Demography
  • Subclass HC – Economic history and conditions
  • Subclass HD – Industries. Land use. Labor
  • Subclass HE – Transportation and communications
  • Subclass HF – Commerce
  • Subclass HG – Finance
  • Subclass HJ – Public finance
  • Subclass HM – Sociology (General)
  • Subclass HN – Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
  • Subclass HQ – The family. Marriage, Women and Sexuality
  • Subclass HS – Societies: secret, benevolent, etc.
  • Subclass HT – Communities. Classes. Races
  • Subclass HV – Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
  • Subclass HX – Socialism. Communism. Anarchism

Class J – Political Science

  • Subclass J – General legislative and executive papers
  • Subclass JA – Political science (General)
  • Subclass JC – Political theory
  • Subclass JF – Political institutions and public administration
  • Subclass JJ – Political institutions and public administration (North America)
  • Subclass JK – Political institutions and public administration (United States)
  • Subclass JL – Political institutions and public administration (Canada, Latin America, etc.)
  • Subclass JN – Political institutions and public administration (Europe)
  • Subclass JQ – Political institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.)
  • Subclass JS – Local government. Municipal government
  • Subclass JV – Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
  • Subclass JX – International law, see JZ and KZ (obsolete)
  • Subclass JZ – International relations

Class K – Law

Main page: Library of Congress Classification:Class K -- Law

Class L – Education

Main page: Library of Congress Classification:Class L -- Education

Class M – Music

Main page: Library of Congress Classification:Class M -- Music

Class N – Fine Arts

  • Subclass NA – Architecture
  • Subclass NB – Sculpture
  • Subclass NC – Drawing. Design. Illustration
  • Subclass ND – Painting
  • Subclass NE – Print media
  • Subclass NK – Decorative arts
  • Subclass NX – Arts in general

Class P – Language and Literature

The PN-subclass shelf.
  • Subclass P – Philology. Linguistics
  • Subclass PA – Greek language and literature. Latin language and literature
  • Subclass PB – Modern languages. Celtic languages and literature
  • Subclass PC – Romanic languages
  • Subclass PD – Germanic languages. Scandinavian languages
  • Subclass PE – English language
  • Subclass PF – West Germanic languages
  • Subclass PG – Slavic languages and literature. Baltic languages. Albanian language
  • Subclass PH – Uralic languages. Basque language
  • Subclass PJ – Oriental languages and literatures
  • Subclass PK – Indo-Iranian languages and literature
  • Subclass PL – Languages and literature of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
  • Subclass PM – Hyperborean, Native American, and artificial languages
  • Subclass PN – Literature (General)
  • Subclass PQ – French literature – Italian literature – Spanish literature – Portuguese literature
  • Subclass PR – English literature
  • Subclass PS – American literature
  • Subclass PT – German literature – Dutch literature – Flemish literature since 1830 – Afrikaans literature -Scandinavian literature – Old Norse literature: Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian – Modern Icelandic literature – Faroese literature – Danish literature – Norwegian literature – Swedish literature
  • Subclass PZ – Fiction and juvenile belles lettres

Class Q – Science

Main page: Physics:Library of Congress Classification:Class Q -- Science

Class R – Medicine

Main page: Medicine:Library of Congress Classification:Class R -- Medicine

Class S – Agriculture

Main page: Social:Library of Congress Classification:Class S -- Agriculture

Class T – Technology

Main page: Engineering:Library of Congress Classification:Class T -- Technology

Class U – Military Science

  • Subclass U – Military science (General)
  • Subclass UA – Armies: Organization, distribution, military situation
  • Subclass UB – Military administration
  • Subclass UC – Military maintenance and transportation
  • Subclass UD – Infantry
  • Subclass UE – Cavalry. Armor
  • Subclass UF – Artillery
  • Subclass UG – Military engineering. Air forces
  • Subclass UH – Other military services

Class V – Naval Science

  • Subclass V – Naval science (General)
  • Subclass VA – Navies: Organization, distribution, naval situation
  • Subclass VB – Naval administration
  • Subclass VC – Naval maintenance
  • Subclass VD – Naval seamen
  • Subclass VE – Marines
  • Subclass VF – Naval ordnance
  • Subclass VG – Minor services of navies
  • Subclass VK – Navigation. Merchant marine
  • Subclass VM – Naval architecture. Shipbuilding. Marine engineering

Class Z – Bibliography, Library Science

  • Subclass Z – Books (General). Writing. Paleography. Book industries and trade. Libraries. Bibliography
  • Subclass ZA – Information resources/materials

See also


  1. LCCN also covers authors, which LCC does not. For authors (people), the letter 'n' accompanies the number, and they too define URLs in a parallel catalog, such as "n83160096" and "". (So LCCN may be called alphanumeric.)
  2. LCSH too is developed by the Library and assigns alphanumeric IDs. A closer look at this example shows refinements defined in 2004, 2007, and 2009. LCSH: Boarding schools.
  3. "FT MEADE" and "Copy 1" are specific to the Library of Congress collection, where FT MEADE refers to a facility located at Fort Meade. All libraries that use LCC assign call numbers that begin "PZ7.J684 Wj 1982" to their copies of the 1982 edition of this book.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lavallee, Andrew (July 20, 2007). "Discord Over Dewey: A New Library in Arizona Fans a Heated Debate Over What Some Call the 'Googlization' of Libraries". Wall Street Journal. "Some 95% of U.S. public libraries use Dewey, and nearly all of the others, the OCLC says, use a closely related Library of Congress system." 
  2. Dittmann, Helena (2000). Learn Library of Congress classification. Internet Archive. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-3696-9. 
  3. Andy Sturdevant. "Cracking the spine on Hennepin County Library's many hidden charms". MinnPost, 02/05/14.
  4. Hickey, Doralyn J. (1969). "Reviewed work: The Use of the Library of Congress Classification: Proceedings of the Institute on the Use of the Library of Congress Classification Sponsored by the American Library Association, Resources and Technical Services Division, Cataloging and Classification Section, New York City, July 7-9, 1966, Richard H. Schimmelpfeng, C. Donald Cook". The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 39 (3): 294–296. doi:10.1086/619784. 
  5. Taylor, A. G., & Joudrey, D.N. (2009). The organization of information. 3rd ed. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited.
  6. Chan, L. M.(2007). Cataloging and classification: An introduction. 3rd ed. Scarecrow Press.
  7. National Library of Canada. "Class FC: a classification for Canadian history". National Library of Canada. 
  8. Rutherford, D. "Canadian History Call Numbers". 

External links