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About the Library: Organization of Print Books

MCC Library Print Collection: Library of Congress Classification

Image of books in LC call number order

image source: Queens College Libraries

Libraries in the United States use one of two systems to classify and organize print books and other physical materials. Many public and a few college libraries use the Dewey Decimal system. Most College and University libraries use the Library of Congress Classification system. Both systems accomplish the same purposes – organizing the books into subject areas. The Dewey System assigns a number code to each book, while the Library of Congress system assigns a letter and number code.

The Library of Congress Classification (LC) System @ MCC

The LC Classification uses the following schedule to arrange books by subject:

A -- General Works
B -- Philosopy, Psychology, Religion
C -- General History, Archaeology, Geneology, etc.
D --

World History, History of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

E - F --

History of the Americas (United States, British America, Dutch America, French America, Latin America, Spanish America)
G -- Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
H -- Social Sciences
J -- Political Sciences
K --


L -- Education
M -- Music
N -- Fine Arts
P -- Language & Literature
Q -- Sciences
R -- Medicine
S -- Agriculture
T -- Technology
U -- Military Science
V -- Naval Science
Z -- Library & Information Science

Finding Materials

  • The arrangement of materials on the shelves is alphabetical by their classification letters, from A to Z and within each group numerically from 1 to 9999.
  • Materials are labeled with their classification number on their spines, and code letters appear at the ends of each row of stacks.
  • The letter and the number code which is assigned to each book is known as a call number, and might look like this:


     This is the call number for The Computer: A Very Short Introduction by Darrel Ince

The call number is both on the spine of the resource and on the record for this book in the library's online catalog. The call number is called the shelf location on the catalog record.

The letter part of the call number indicates the broad subject area of the book.  The first number line indicates a more specific or narrower subject area.  The letter and number on the third line are a code for the author’s last name.

If you go to any section of shelves, you will notice that the call numbers run from left to right, and you will see that they are arranged in alphabetical and numerical order as below:





You can see that this keeps the books in a logical sequence on the shelves and that they are thus, roughly arranged by subject.

MCC Library Online

The majority of our MCC Library Collection is now online (eJournal articles and eBooks). We add fewer new titles to our print collection each year. Please ask a librarian for help if you cannot find the book you need. It might be an eBook.

Search eBooks:


The MCC Library has almost 220,000 FREE eBooks.

How We Choose Library Materials

The library’s collections support the mission, vision, values, curriculum, and priorities of MCC. For complete details see the MCC Library Collection Development and Management Policy.

Donations will be assessed using the same criteria as for other materials. 

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