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Winthrop University

Historical Preservation: Library of Congress Classification System

This research guide includes useful links to Dacus Library online catalog links, online databases, and useful Websites pertaining to the subject of historic preservation.


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Martha Smith
Subjects: History, Law

Library of Congress Classification System

The Library of Congress Classification System (LCC) is a subject-oriented classification system developed to organize and arrange book collections held by the Library of Congress and then was adopted by other by other libraries, including academic libraries, as standardized classification system. The system is divided into 21 basic classes, each identified by a single letter of the alphabet and then sub-divided into specific sub-classes using two-letter combinations.  For example, class N, Art, has subclasses NA, Architecture; NB, Sculpture, ND, Painting; as well as several other subclasses.  Each subclass contains a loosely hierarchical arrangement of the topics pertinent to the subclass, and works are arranged from general to more specific.  Individual topics - places, time periods, bibliographic forms (e.g. - periodicals, biographies, etc.) - are assigned a single number or a span of numbers.

Q: How does the Library of Congress Classification System (LCC) benefit researchers? 

A: Half the battle of performing good research is understanding how information is organized.  Google and other search engines use the KEYWORD search method which yields very broad search results. These same search engines rely on programmed algorithms that consider a wider-range of search results.  Academic libraries have online catalog systems that posses advanced capabilities such as SUBJECT search. Most academic libraries use the Library of Congress Classification System, so understanding how subjects are arranged by class, sub-class, and subject will yield much more accurate search results. Ask a reference librarian for additional information about how to use the LCC system to perform targetted search strategies.       

The document listed in the column on the right - Historic Preservation - LCC Classes and Sub-Classes - lists the classes and sub-classes that include subject headings related to historic preservation. The list is not all-inclusive or exhaustive.  It should be treated as a very broad and general subject guide for the various activities and characteristics which fall within the scope of historic preservation.  These include activities related to the research, identification, protection, enhancement of buildings, places, landscapes, and, objects of historical, archaeological, and cultural significance.  The next document - LCC Classes and Sub-Classes - is a comprehensive listing.  

Historic Preservation - LCC Classes & Sub-Classes