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How to Find Materials on Shelf

The Library of Congress (LC) Classification System.

The RCC Library organizes books and other materials on shelf according to the Library of Congress, or LC, Classification System. This is the same system used by the Boston Public Library and most college libraries. Every book in our collection has its LC call number printed on a label on its spine. To see a description of the classes and sub-classes of the LC classification system, visit L.C. Classification System.

Since the LC classification system organizes books by subject, it is possible to browse the shelves and find similar books together.

Each call number is made of several parts. Here's an example: 

Alphabetic order RA
Whole numerical order 859.3
Decimal alphanumerical order .C65
Year of publication 2000

The call numbers are in alpha-numeric order starting with the first line and working down. There is a decimal point at the beginning of the third line and the numbers in it are decimal not whole numbers. Look at these three similar call numbers. They are in correct order because the third lines are treated as decimals.

RA RA RA
859.3 859.3 859.3
.C132 .C65 .C7
1996 2001 1999

Starting with the call number from the online catalog, it is possible to find most books on shelf. Follow these methodical steps to find your book quickly:

  • Look in the correct location: Stacks, Reference, Reserves, etc.
  • Within the location, find the correct range of shelving. There are signs at the end of each row, which will tell you the first and last call numbers shelved there.
  • Within the correct range, look at one call number in the first section of shelving, then one in the next section until you find the correct section.
  • Find the correct book on the shelf.