Since its inception as a legal resource for Congress, the Library of Congress’s catalogue has expanded significantly to reflect a growing function as a repository for significant academic and cultural works of the English language. The Library of Congress also maintains a unique classification system which is generally used as the standard by scholarly sources.
What are the categories in the Library of Congress Catalogue?
There are twenty-one classifications in the Library of Congress Catalogue:
• A – General Works
• B – Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
• C – Auxiliary Sciences of History
• D – World History
• E, F – American History
• F – Local History of the Americas
• G – Geography, Anthropology, 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
• Z – Bibliography, Library Science
Each of these classifications has subclasses that refer more specifically to the nature of the literary work.
What is the best way to access the Library of Congress Catalogue?
The Library of Congress Catalogue has been digitized in full at catelouge.loc.gov. Like many digital catalogues, this catalogue has basic and advanced search functions.
Let’s say you want to find books about alpacas. One may use the Basic Search function in the following manner:
Click on Basic Search
Type the “keyword” in this case alpacas, into the Search Text box.
Select “Keyword (match all words)” in the search type box for the most results or feel free to limit the keyword to title, author, subject, or series keywords
Click “Begin Search”
You will now see a list of resources, in this case twenty-seven materials available at the library matching your interest. These results may be sorted by relevance to the keyword, author or date.
The results will show the physical location of the item as well as relevant information such as date, language, subject and author
Let’s say you want a more specific search. Let’s say you are interested in the grazing habits of alpacas but not the commercial purposes of alpaca wool.
Start at the main page as use the Guided Search function.
Click on Guided Search
Enter “alpaca” first box, “grazing” in the second box and wool in the third box
Be sure to select “AND” below the first and second boxes and “NOT” after the third box.
Click “Begin Search”
You will get one result, in Spanish, but it’s likely the best resource you will get on this topic. You will receive information on the author, publisher, page length and its location in the library.
The Library of Congress catalogue also maintains links and resources to other relevant digital catalogues of photographs, sounds and documents.