Library Classification Systems





Research Guide Directory :

Discussion Group Directory










It Often Takes Class to Find a Book in the Library:

Learning About Library Classification Systems:

A Selective Resource Guide













It Often Takes Class to Find a Book in the Library




Sometime or another when using a library, many folks who have asked the

librarian where one can find a specific book in the library is asked if

they know the call number for the book. Call numbers are derived from

classification systems such as the Dewey Decimal System, the Library of

Congress Classification System, the Universal Decimal System and National

Library of Medicine Classification System. In addition to subject

headings, call number subject classification of books is an important tool

for discovering what is contained on a subject or topic by a library.

This post provides some resources for better understanding library

classification systems.




Related Background Net-Gold Posts









U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Medical Subject Headings (MESH)








How to Write a Research Paper: Selected Books





How to Ask Questions:

From the Roles of the Library Reference Desk

to the Ways and Techniques of Questioning

in a Range of Environments:

A Selective Collection of Sources







A National Security Archive Guide




The Contemporary Thesaurus of Search Terms and Synonyms:

A Guide for Natural Language Computer Searching

Editor  Sara D. Knapp

Publisher       Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000

ISBN   157356107X, 9781573561075

Length            682 pages








Improving User Access to

Library Catalog and Portal Information

FINAL REPORT (Version 3)

by Marcia J. Bates, Ph.D.

Department of Information Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1520


June 1, 2003




1. Introduction and Background


2. Review of Information Seeking Literature


2A. General information seeking behavior


2B. Card and Online Catalog Use


2C. Internet, WWW, and Library Portal Use


2D. Future Information Access


3. Review of Research Specific to the Three Issues Addressed Here


3A. User Access Vocabulary


3B. Grouping/Linking Bibliographic Families


4. Implications and Recommendations


4A. User Access Vocabulary


4B. Grouping/Linking Bibliographic Families


4C. Staging of Access to Resources in the Interface


4D. Example Implementation of Recommended Approaches


4E. Drawing the Threads Together


5. Summary


5A. Summary of Review of Information Seeking Literature


5B. Summary of Review of Research Specific to the Three Issues Addressed


5C. Summary of Recommendations








Getting Web information retrieval right this time

Bates, MJ

Journal: First Monday

ISSN: 1396-0466 Date: 2002

Volume: 7 Issue: 7-1




Building PROMIS item banks: librarians as co-investigators

Klem, Mary

Journal: Quality of life research

ISSN: 0962-9343 Date: 2009

Volume: 18 Issue: 7 Page: 881

DOI: 10.1007/s11136-009-9498-7




Natural language thesaurus: a survey of student research skills

and research tool preferences

Redfern, V

Journal: Australian academic and research libraries

ISSN: 0004-8623 Date: 2004

Volume: 35 Issue: 2




Title Moving Beyond the Presentation Layer: Content and Context in the

Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) System

Volume 36 of Monographs from Cataloging & classification quarterly

Authors Joan S. Mitchell, Diane Vizine-Goetz

Editors Joan S. Mitchell, Diane Vizine-Goetz

Edition illustrated

Publisher Routledge, 2007

ISBN 0789034530, 9780789034533

Length 239 pages

Subjects Classification, Dewey decimal

Language Arts & Disciplines / Library & Information Science

Reference / General




Natural language thesaurus: a survey of student research skills

and research tool preferences.

Australian Academic & Research Libraries Article

June 1, 2004

Redfern, Victoria







Cataloging Electronic Resources: OCLC-MARC Coding Guidelines






ICD-9 Codes







Researching an Industry




Industry Classification Codes





Utah State Library.

Cataloging Basics








When I was knee high to a grass hopper in the library field and used the

card catalog and print subject field indexes to journal article literature

like Business Periodicals Index and Social Science Index and had never

used a computer in my life, I became very unhappy about the subject

heading used for a book. The book was a handbook or directory of a state

government and the catalogers had used a heading that included the word

registers rather than a word like directory. This was the year 1976. I

lost because the cataloger for serials at that time informed me that we

followed Library of Congress cataloging in such matters and uniformity

amongst libraries in the subject description of a book was important.

I lost the battle, but won the war. Some major corporations heard of my

problem and were moved to invent the personal computer, the online

catalog, the internet and the internet search engine, all because of my

problem with esoteric subject headings and call number assignments for

books and serials.




This leads me to a response I sent today to a list on which a librarian

was concerned about the cataloging decision about a biographical book

given a specialized Dewey Decimal classification number.




In this discussion list post this librarian expressed concern that an

obscure Dewey Decimal classification of a book rather than the book being

shelved with the biographies would keep this book from seeing the light of

day of readers eager hands and eyes.




Ishmael Beah -

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

ISBN: 0374105235 9780374105235




I am not entirely certain that a Dewey call number, even if repeated in

many libraries, can do much in today's information economy to contribute

to a book becoming unknown and hidden.




Enter the Sherlock Holmes of the computer age to ferret out this hidden








A shorter URL for the above link:






Even "Scholars" seem to be aware of this title.








A shorter URL for the above link:






Indeed this book cannot even hide inside another book any longer.








A shorter URL for the above link:






And for that matter, how can one keep the in the know bloggers from Web

Logging this title?








A shorter URL for the above link:






Without the help of a classy librarian, the user may even be able to

picture this book in their mind.








A shorter URL for the above link:






It is my considered opinion that classification can no longer keep even

the most dewey eyed library user from awareness of this or any title no

matter what library shelf street address a cataloger selects to try to

employ to hide this or any book. Indeed the keyword search capability in

online library "card" catalogs has done much to free library users from

the tyranny of esoteric classification choices and obscure subject

headings. You can book me on this one.









Library and Information Science: A Guide to Online Resources













Will Googles Keyword Searching Eliminate the Need for LC

Cataloging and Classification?




Cutter Numbers in Library Classification




Learning about Library Classification (Call Numbers)


Some of the links in this post are dead, but they can be checked in

Internet Archive to find earlier alive versions of the site.


Internet Archive





How to Do That Back of the Book Index and Similar Types of Indexing Such

as Periodical Articles: Some Sources That Tell Their Readers How This is






A Catalogue of Errors









FRASER: The Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research






Diseases Database Ver 1.7 ; Medical Lists and Links




State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States from GODORT




"national library of medicine" AND classification (Call Numbers)




Library of Congress Classification (Call Numbers)




Dewey Decimal Classification (Call Numbers)




Government Printing Office Classification Manual (SUDOC Numbers)




Library of Congress Classification





Classification and Shelflisting

Library of Congress




Library of Congress Subject Headings





Dewey Decimal Classification





National Library of Medicine classification (NLM)




The NLM Classification Online




The National Library of Medicine Classification is published annually

online ( The print publication ceased with

the 5th revised edition in 1999.




The online environment offers many advantages to users including

hyperlinks between class numbers in the index and the schedules, and

between terms within the index and direct links from these to the MeSH

record itself under the MeSH Browser. It gives NLM the ability to keep the

NLM Classification current with changes in MeSH.




Scope and Arrangement




The NLM Classification covers the field of medicine and related sciences.

The scheme is a system of classification intended to be used for the shelf

arrangement of all library materials, regardless of format. Designed as a

broad classification, it is suitable for both large and small library

collections and may be adapted to handle specialized collections of any





The NLM Classification is a system of mixed notation patterned after the

Library of Congress (LC) Classification where alphabetical letters which

denote broad subject categories are further subdivided by numbers. The NLM

Classification utilizes schedules QS-QZ and W-WZ, permanently excluded

from the LC Classification Schedules and is intended to be used with the

LC schedules which supplement the NLM Classification for subjects

bordering on medicine and for general reference materials. The LC

schedules for Human Anatomy (QM), Microbiology (QR), and Medicine (R) are

not used at all by the National Library of Medicine since they overlap the

NLM Classification.




The headings for the individual schedules are given in brief form (e.g.,

WE - Musculoskeletal System; WG - Cardiovascular System) and together they

provide an outline of the subjects that constitute the NLM Classification.

These headings are interpreted broadly and include the physiological

system, the specialty or specialties connected with them, the regions of

the body chiefly concerned and subordinate related fields. The

Classification is hierarchical, and within each schedule, division by

organ usually has priority. Each main schedule, as well as some sections

within a schedule, begins with a group of form numbers ranging generally

from 1-49 which are used to classify materials by publication type, e.g.,

dictionaries, atlases, laboratory manuals, etc.




The main schedules QS-QZ, W-WY, and WZ (excluding WZ 220-270) are used to

classify works published after 1913; the 19th century schedule is used for

works published 1801-1913; and WZ 220-270 is used to provide century

groupings for works published before 1801 and Americana. Geographic

subdivision is provided for certain subjects in the NLM schedules by the

application of Table G notations.








Preclinical Sciences:




QS Human Anatomy

QT Physiology

QU Biochemistry. Cell Biology and Genetics

QV Pharmacology

QW Microbiology and Immunology

QX Parasitology

QY Clinical Pathology

QZ Pathology




Medicine and Related Subjects:




W General Medicine. Health Professions

WA Public Health

WB Practice of Medicine

WC Communicable Diseases

WD Disorders of Systemic, Metabolic, or Environmental Origin, etc.

WE Musculoskeletal System

WF Respiratory System

WG Cardiovascular System

WH Hemic and Lymphatic Systems

WI Digestive System

WJ Urogenital System

WK Endocrine System

WL Nervous System

WM Psychiatry

WN Radiology. Diagnostic Imaging

WO Surgery

WP Gynecology

WQ Obstetrics

WR Dermatology

WS Pediatrics

WT Geriatrics. Chronic Disease

WU Dentistry. Oral Surgery

WV Otolaryngology

WW Ophthalmology

WX Hospitals and Other Health Facilities

WY Nursing

WZ History of Medicine. Medical Miscellany




19th Century Schedule




The Index to the NLM Classification consists primarily of Medical Subject

Heading (MeSH) concepts used in cataloging. It includes concepts first

appearing in the latest edition of MeSH and other older concepts as

warranted by the literature cataloged. It also provides access to

classification numbers through these MeSH concepts. Index entries are

updated annually to reflect additions and changes of the latest edition of





Cutter Expansive Classification




Universal Decimal Classification




UDC Consortium




UDC Classification Outline




The Library of Congress Classification Scheme for Cartographic Materials

Tsering Wangyal Shawa




The Library of Congress Classification System (LC)

How to read call numbers in an academic library

Online Library Learning Center

University of Georgia Libraries




Dewey Decimal System Home Page




The Master's Seminary

Prof. Dennis M. Swanson

Library Classification Systems




Cambridge University Library

Classification Scheme




U.S. Geological Survey Library Classification System

by R. Scott Sasscer




Library Classification

Encyclopia Britannica.




Ranganathan's Prolegomena to Library Classification

Submitted by wtd on 27 March 2009 - 10:56pm

Miskatonic University Press




Dewey Classification System

California State University Los Angeles Libraries





Title Library Classification

Author C.K. Sharma & A.K. Sharma

Publisher Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2007

ISBN 8126907827, 9788126907823

Length 253 pages




Title Library classification and browsing: the conjunction of readers and


Author Snunith Shoham

Publisher Sussex Academic Press, 2000

ISBN 1902210557, 9781902210551

Length 162 pages




Title Classification: options and opportunities

Cataloging & classification quarterly

Author Alan R. Thomas

Editor Alan R. Thomas

Edition illustrated

Publisher Psychology Press, 1995

ISBN 1560247096, 9781560247098

Length 242 pages




Title Library cataloguing and classification system

Author M.S. Ramalingam

Publisher Gyan Publishing House, 2000

ISBN 8178350041, 9788178350042

Length 317 pages




Title Library Classification and Numbering System

Author Henry William Parker

Edition reprint

Publisher BiblioBazaar, 2010

ISBN 1172323046, 9781172323043

Length 212 pages




Title Classification systems used in the Library: Photograph


Authors Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). Library, Ethel A.

Pennell, Lucie E. Wallace

Publisher The Gilliss Press, 1912

Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Oct 11, 2006

Length 148 pages




Title An introduction to library classification: with readings, questions

and examination papers

Author William Charles Berwick Sayers

Publisher Grafton & Co., 1918

Original from the University of California

Digitized Sep 12, 2008

Length 172 pages




Title Major classification systems: the Dewey Centennial

Issue 21 of Allerton Park Institute, Allerton Park Institute

Authors Kathryn Luther Henderson, Forest Press, University of Illinois at

Urbana-Champaign. Graduate School of Library Science, University of

Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Office of Continuing Education and Public


Editor Kathryn Luther Henderson

Publisher University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library Science, 1976

Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Oct 12, 2006

ISBN 0878450440, 9780878450442

Length 182 pages




Title Library classification and browsing: the conjunction of readers and


Author Snunith Shoham

Publisher Sussex Academic Press, 2000

ISBN 1902210557, 9781902210551

Length 162 pages




Title Information research

Author Carla List

Edition 2, revised

Publisher Kendall Hunt, 2002

ISBN 0787290572, 9780787290573

Length 147 pages




Title Classification: theoretical and practical

Author Ernest Cushing Richardson

Publisher C. Scribner's sons, 1912

Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Sep 28, 2006

Length 149 pages




Title Practical Handbook of Dewey Decimal Classification

Author C.K. Sharma

Publisher Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2006

ISBN 8126906111, 9788126906116

Length 228 pages




Title Classification Made Simple:

An Introduction to Knowledge Organisation and Information Retrieval

Author Eric J. Hunter

Edition 3, illustrated

Publisher Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009

ISBN 0754675580, 9780754675587

Length 163 pages




Title The Metropolitan Museum of Art -

Classification Systems Used in the Library

Author Lucie E Wallaces

Published 1911

Original from the New York Public Library

Digitized Sep 9, 2005




Title Problems in library classification:

Dewey 17 and conversion

Issue 1 of Library and information science studies

Editor Theodore Samore

Publisher R. R. Bowker Co., 1968

Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Nov 11, 2009

Length 188 pages




Title A guide to the Library of Congress classification

Library science text series

Author John Phillip Immroth

Edition 2

Publisher Libraries Unlimited, 1971

Original from University of Minnesota

Digitized Jan 29, 2010

Length 335 pages




Title Classification Systems:

Periodic Table, Taxonomy, Linnaean Taxonomy,

Universal Decimal Classification, Colon Classification

Author Books, LLC

Editors Books, LLC, Books Group

Publisher General Books LLC, 2010

ISBN 1157592945, 9781157592945

Length 592 pages




Title Decimal classification system:

a bibliography for the period 1876-1994

Author Sushma Gupta

Publisher M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 1997

ISBN 8175330589, 9788175330580

Length 122 pages




Title Adopting the Library of Congress classification system:

a manual of methods and techniques for application or conversion

Authors Raimund E. Matthis, Desmond Taylor

Edition illustrated

Publisher R. R. Bowker, 1971

Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Oct 11, 2006

ISBN 0835204936, 9780835204934

Length 209 pages




Title Cataloging and classification:

trends, transformations, teaching, and training

Cataloging & classification quarterly

Authors James R. Shearer, Alan R. Thomas

Editors James R. Shearer, Alan R. Thomas

Publisher Psychology Press, 1997

ISBN 0789003392, 9780789003393

Length 210 pages




Title American library classification:

with special reference to the Library of Congress

Author Leo E. LaMontagne

Publisher Shoe String Press, 1961

Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Sep 30, 2006

Length 433 pages




Title Patent searching made easy:

how to do patent searches on the Internet & in the library


Patent Searching Made Easy: How to Do Patent Searches on the Internet & in

the Library

Author David Hitchcock

Edition 5, revised

Publisher Nolo, 2009

ISBN 1413310362, 9781413310368

Length 265 pages




Title Manheimer's cataloging and classification, Volume 1

Books in library and information science

Volume 59 of International Fiber Science and Technology Series

Authors Jerry D. Saye, April Bohannan

Edition 4, illustrated, revised

Publisher CRC Press, 2000

ISBN 0824794761, 9780824794767

Length 395 pages




Title Library classification of music:

description and critique of selected systems

Authors Bruno Nettl, University of Michigan. Dept. of Library Science

Publisher University of Michigan, 1960. Cf. Library literature, 1958-1960,


Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Aug 14, 2007

Length 166 pages




Title Classification schedules

Authors Library of Congress, Library of Congress.

Subject Cataloging Division, Library of Congress.

Classification Division,

Library of Congress. Music Division, Library of Congress.

Cataloging Policy and Support Office

Publisher Library of Congress., 1910

Original from the University of California

Digitized Jul 21, 2009




Title Library of Congress classification schedules: a cumulation of

additions and changes ...: Class B, philosophy, psychology, religion.

Subclasses BL, BM, BP, BQ: ... Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism

Library of Congress Classification Schedules: a Cumulation of Additions

and Changes ...: Class R, Medicine, Gale Research Company

Library of Congress Classification Schedules: a Cumulation of Additions

and Changes ...: Class B, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion. Subclasses BL,

BM, BP, BQ: ... Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Library of Congress.

Subject Cataloging Division

Authors Library of Congress. Subject Cataloging Division, Gale Research


Publisher Gale Research Co., 1910

Original from the University of Michigan

Digitized Aug 29, 2009




Title Cataloging and classification: an introduction

G - Reference, Information and Interdisciplinary Subjects Series

Authors Lois Mai Chan, Theodora Hodges

Editor Theodora Hodges

Contributor Theodora Hodges

Edition 3, illustrated

Publisher Scarecrow Press, 2007

ISBN 0810860007, 9780810860001

Length 580 pages




Using Library Classification Schemes for Internet Resources

by Diane Vizine-Goetz

OCLC Office of Research and Special Projects




New roles for classification in libraries and information networks

Cochrane, PA

Journal: Cataloging & classification quarterly

ISSN: 0163-9374 Date: 1995

Volume: 21 Page: 3




Bibliographic Classification Theory and Text Linguistics:

Aboutness Analysis, Intertextuality and the Cognitive Act

of Classifying Documents

Beghtol, Clare

Journal: Journal of documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418 Date: 1986

Volume: 42 Issue: 2 Page: 84

DOI: 10.1108/eb026788




The construction of an empirically based mathematically derived

classification system

Borko, Harold

Journal: Proceedings of the May 1-3, 1962,

spring joint computer conference on - AIEE-IRE '62 (Spring)

Date: 1962

Page: 279

DOI: 10.1145/1460833.1460865




An Analysis of Courses in Cataloging and Classification and

Related Areas Offered in Sixteen Graduate Library Schools and

Their Relationship to Present and Future Trends in Cataloging

and Classification and to Cognitive Needs

of Professional Academic Catalogers

McAllister-Harper, Desretta

Journal: Cataloging & classification quarterly

ISSN: 0163-9374 Date: 1993

Volume: 16 Issue: 3 Page: 99

DOI: 10.1300/J104v16n03_11




The need for a faceted classification as the basis
of all methods of information retrieval

Broughton, Vanda

Journal: Aslib proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X Date: 2006

Volume: 58 Issue: 1/2 Page: 49

DOI: 10.1108/00012530610648671




How to Make a Faceted Classification and Put It On the Web




Title Internet searching and indexing: the subject approach

Library Science

Authors Alan R. Thomas, James R. Shearer

Editors Alan R. Thomas, James R. Shearer

Edition illustrated

Publisher Psychology Press, 2000

ISBN 0789010305, 9780789010308

Length 217 pages

Subjects Computers System Administration Storage &




Classification systems used in medical libraries

Scheerer, G

Journal: Bulletin of the Medical Library Association

ISSN: 0025-7338 Date: 1974

Volume: 62 Issue: 3 Page: 273




Classification, Present and Future

Chan, Lois Mai

Journal: Cataloging & classification quarterly

ISSN: 0163-9374 Date: 1996

Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Page: 5

DOI: 10.1300/J104v21n02_03




The Universal Decimal Classification:

Some factors concerning its origins, development, and influence

McIlwaine, I. C.

Journal: Journal of the American Society for Information Science

ISSN: 0002-8231 Date: 1997

Volume: 48 Issue: 4 Page: 331

DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4571(199704)48:4<331::AID-ASI6>3.0.CO;2-X




The Future of General Classification

Mai, Jens-Erik

Journal: Cataloging & classification quarterly

ISSN: 0163-9374 Date: 2004

Volume: 37 Issue: 1 Page: 3

DOI: 10.1300/J104v37n01_02




Folksonomies-Why do we need controlled vocabulary?

Noruzi, A

Journal: Webology

ISSN: 1735-188X Date: 2007




Semantic Road Maps for Literature Searchers

Doyle, Lauren B.

Journal: Journal of the ACM

ISSN: 0004-5411 Date: 1961

Volume: 8 Issue: 4 Page: 553

DOI: 10.1145/321088.321095




Organising knowledge : an introduction to information retrieval.

Author: Jennifer E Rowley

Publisher: Aldershot : Gower, 1987.




The Art of Classification: Alternate Classification Systems

in Art Libraries

Ferrari, Roberto

Journal: Cataloging & classification quarterly

ISSN: 0163-9374 Date: 2000

Volume: 28 Issue: 2 Page: 73

DOI: 10.1300/J104v28n02_07




Complexity in indexing systems-

Abandonment and failure:

Implications for organizing the Internet

Weinberg, BH

Journal: Proceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting

ISSN: 0044-7870 Date: 1996

Volume: 33 Page: 84




The" Amherst Method":

The Origins of the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme

Wiegand, WA

Journal: Libraries & culture

ISSN: 0894-8631 Date: 1998

Volume: 33 Issue: 2 Page: 175




Title Subject control in online catalogs, Issues 1-2

Cataloging and Classification Quarterly Series

Author Robert P. Holley

Editor Robert P. Holley

Edition illustrated, annotated

Publisher Psychology Press, 1989

ISBN 0866567933, 9780866567930

Length 251 pages




Classification schemes of Information Science: Twenty-eight scholars map

the field

Author: Classification schemes of Information Science: Twenty-eight

scholars map the field Zins, Chaim

Journal: Journal of the American Society for Information Science and


ISSN: 1532-2882 Date: 2007

Volume: 58 Issue: 5 Page: 645

DOI: 10.1002/asi.20506




We don't need a philosophy of library and information science:

We're confused enough already

Zwadlo, J

Journal: The Library quarterly (Chicago)

ISSN: 0024-2519 Date: 1997

Volume: 67 Issue: 2 Page: 103




Library Jargon: Student Recognition of Terms and

Concepts Commonly Used by Librarians in the Classroom 1

Hutcherson, NB

Journal: College & research libraries

ISSN: 0010-0870 Date: 2004

Volume: 65 Issue: 4 Page: 349







More about classification











Temple Summon Search




Dewey Decimal Classification Part-1

See Right Side Bar for Links to Other Parts and Other Related Videos




Colon Classification Part-1




A Lesson in Music Cataloging




Classification Overview




Dewey Decimal System video.wmv




Info Literacy 6. Locating Materials in the Library




Library of Congress Classification System




How to Read a Library of Congress Call Number

(University of Arkansas Libraries)




Locating Materials in the Library














David Dillard

Temple University

(215) 204 - 4584








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in search results for Net-Gold and related lists.

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