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4.3: Using Classification Web

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    Classification Web is the site used by catalogers who are using the Library of Congress Classification System. There are multiple types of searches one can perform on this website, including through the schedules and tables and through subject headings. It has a somewhat complicated interface, but with some training it will be easy to navigate.

    Before we continue let me recommend you to the Library of Congress’ Cataloging Workshop Page. This page is helpful even for librarians who have been in the field for years and years. The Online Training for the Library of Congress Classification

    LCC Enhanced Browser

    This is the second-most easy browser in Classification Web to use. It provides easy access to both schedules and tables of the Library of Congress Classification system.

    At the top of the page is a standard search box with two menus. The first menu provides the option to search through either the schedules of the LCC system or the tables. Until you get down to more specific categories or forms, you will only want to use the schedules. The second menu provides searches through Class Number (the basic part of your call number) Caption (the subject associated with a call number), and Index terms or a combination of Index and Caption terms.

    When searching with caption terms, it is important to know that caption searches are always “left-anchored.” This means that the query will be read from left to right and matched perfectly with any possible captions. Caption searches are useful, but are usually only productive if the cataloger already knows what the first word or first few words of a caption will be.

    Searching the index can be helpful in some instances, but there are many problems with this feature of Classification Web. Only high-level terms are indexed, as well as some special topics. Geographical terms and corporate bodies are not indexed. Tables are also not indexed.

    When searching for Index and Caption terms, it is imperative that you always double-check the schedule to ensure that the number you have found is appropriate and unrestricted. The schedules and tables can be tricky!

    When I put “Raelian” in the Search bar and selected Schedules and Caption search parameters, first search result was the Raelian Movement, which is what I was looking for. The class number associated with this topic is BP605.R338. If I put “Raelian” and search automatically, the default search is a Class number, which takes me to completely different topics in the schedules. As with searching in OCLC and WebDewey, it is important that your parameters, or limiters, are correct before your search.

    The text immediately below the search bar and above the schedule lists the hierarchy of your current selection in the schedules. The hierarchy for the Raelian Movement is “Islam, Bahai Faith, Theosophy, etc.–Other beliefs and movements–Works. By movement, A-Z–Raelian Movement.” Each of the levels in this line are hyperlinked to see how a particular topic fits within the larger groups.

    When you click on the box next to an entry in the schedule, options appear to view that subject’s Dewey correlation, Bibliographic lookup results, results in the LC class browser, LC Subject correlation, relevant LCSH entries, and MARC display of that subject.

    The enhanced browser is more accurate than the standard browser, which will be discussed in the next section. It also aligns with the Hierarchy Browser by providing actionable entries with hierarchy information at the top of the results page.

    LCC Standard Browser

    The standard browser is the typical browser that one would use on a typical search engine. It is not as helpful as an enhanced browser, but it is the most accurate representation of the LCC schedules. The main difference between this browser and the enhanced browser is that this browser does not include the tables. All table calculations must be performed manually by the cataloger. Links to the tables are provided, but they are not integrated into the browser. There is almost no reason that you should use the standard browser. You may use it if you already have an idea about the discipline into which a particular subject has been cataloged, but you might as well still use the enhanced browser to learn about the subject.

    LCC Hierarchy Browser

    The hierarchy browser is a further-enhanced browser that focuses on displaying one hierarchal level at a time. As you view one level, you can proceed one level down or go multiple levels up to see how lower hierarchical levels fit within higher ones.

    Navigating this browser can be confusing, and it is a little tricky to understand because progression cannot be seen on every screen. In the Hierarchy Browser, you have to click on a particular category to see the lower levels. The result of the search is the highest category to which you can reverse your browsing, unless you search again with a different number.

    While this browser may not appear to be useful, it can be particularly handy when you do not know which category an item should fall into. As long as you know the form of the item and a general subject, you should have relatively little trouble finding the base of your call number.

    Results Options

    Now that we have discussed the options you can use to find specific topics, it is time to discuss how to understand and integrate these results with your broader work. It is essentially useless to know an LC Number if you do not know how to make it communicate with other systems and functions of the library. Most of these are self-explanatory, but we will review each of them anyhow.

    Dewey Correlation

    The Dewey correlation option leads to a page that includes a Dewey number associated with that particular subject. For example, the Dewey number that matches most closely with BP605.R338 is 299. From that page, as well as from the original schedule display, you can go to a bibliographic lookup page.

    Bibliographic Lookup

    The bibliographic lookup option does exactly what it appears to do. This function looks for works according to a particular number. Be aware that if you look for books according to the Dewey Correlation Number instead of the original LCC number, the range of topics covered in the book will be much broader. For example, there were around three hundred works listed under the 299 Dewey number and only 2 listed under BP605.R338: mouvement raelien et son prophete: approche psychologique complexe du charisme and Aliens adored: Rael’s UFO religion.

    Bibliographic Lookup eventually takes one to the Bibliographic Browse section of the Classification Web site. In this section, you can look for books by LC Call number, personal names, titles, subjects, Dewey call numbers, ISBNs, and record numbers as well as system control numbers. You can click on parts of the text record of a work, like the title and the author name. If you click on the title you can see books that have similar titles. If you click on the author name you can see other works by the same author. Clicking on the [Record] link shows a thorough MARC record for the work.

    If you use Bibliographic Lookup to search for a book by LC Call Number, the books will be arranged by their record number. At the bottom of the result record are possible Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal call numbers.

    Library of Congress Subject Correlation

    If you click on this option, a Library of Congress Class Number-led results page will appear with subjects under its purview indented below each number. This will also be under the heading of Correlations. Below the number you have selected will be the next few entries in the schedule with their subjects.

    The white box near each topic has a potential to lead to the Bibliographic Browse page, but unless the subject is a given name results of this action will be skewed.

    Library of Congress Subject Heading

    When you click on this option, you are taken to the “Subject Heading Browse” page. On this page, you can search by class number, subject heading, free-floating subdivisions (including pattern subject headings and subdivisions), unstructured headings and subdivisions, class number, and record number. Descriptions of these subjects, including whether or not a subject may be subdivided geographically, are also present on this page. Further indentations include information about other relevant subjects.

    MARC Display of Subject

    This page takes you to a page that has the specific MARC record related to a class number. You cannot progress past this page, but it is a wealth of information if you know how to interpret the data contained therein. You can take this record and put it into MARC records you are creating for items dealing with a particular subject. Information about the creation and modification of the record are also included on this page of the site. Records are downloaded in UTF-8 format.

    Correlations Page

    The correlations page is a massive search page that allows you to look for connections between Library of Congress Class numbers, Library of Congress Subject Headings, Dewey Class Numbers, Creator names, and NLM (National Library of Medicine) classification.

    Other Options

    The main menu that can be access by the three bars at the top left side of the page offers the opportunity to browse all of the topics above as well as demographic group terms, genre terms, children’s subject headings, and performance medium terms. Essentially, topics can be approached from a wide variety of angles.

    If you click “New Search” on the top right corner, you can search all of these pages at the same time. Boolean functionality is fulfilled by placing words in multiple search boxes or putting multiple words with Boolean operators in one box. Options for a basic search include Class Numbers, Captions, Keywords, Index terms, and other terms. Filters for these searches, such as only showing tables or schedules, can be selected by clicking the “Search options” link.

    At the bottom of the “Search options” section, an option to limit searches to particular schedules can be used by clicking the “Subsets” button.

    Interpreting Results

    Before you examine the results of your Classification Web browsing or search, you need to understand the hierarchy of the LCC system. In the schedules and tables, hierarchy is demonstrated by indentation, not the length of the number like the Dewey Decimal System. The numbers are also not indicative of any particular subject or division. Again, this is a deviation from the Dewey Decimal System.

    Periods are present in both the Library of Congress Call Number and the caption. Their presence in Call numbers has already been explained. In captions, there are multiple purposes. Periods can either show equivalent terminology that may have been searched for, arrangement instructions for subcategories or to show synonyms or related topics that are categorized together despite being different iterations or aspects of the same subject.

    Another important aspect of captions are the notes that may appear indented below them. One of the most common notes, which also appears in WebDewey, is the “Class here” phrase. This note explains the scope of the class. A similar but distinct type of note is the “Includes” note. This gives examples of types of works that can be included in a class but is not exclusive like the “Class here” note. “Subarrange” notes tell catalogers in which specific category certain types of works should be placed.

    Other notes explore different topic through cross-referencing. “See” notes are for captions that do not have a Library of Congress Classification number assigned to them. These subjects are categorized under different numbers, and the “See” cross-reference note lists that caption and number. The “For … see” notes state that specific subdivisions of a subject should be classified under another number. “Cf.” are similar to “For … see” notes but are not as definitive. They merely suggest that a certain range of number may be more appropriate.

    If a result has a parentheses around its number, that number is not valid anymore. Most of the time, this is accompanied with a link to an updated number indented under the caption.

    Bracketed numbers are numbers that local libraries can use in conjunction with the existing designations at the Library of Congress.

    Selecting the Best Number

    While the Dewey Decimal System encourages catalogers to create their own call numbers for works who do not exactly fit into a particular subject, the Library of Congress explicitly forbids most librarians from creating or proposing new call numbers. Instead, librarians should choose the best fit number. There are several rules you should always remember for a situations in which you must perform original cataloging:

    1. Always catalog the subject of the item before you catalog it by its form, unless you are dealing with literature.
    2. Always keep in mind the author’s intent when writing the work.
    3. Always ensure that the first subject heading is incorporated into the call number, and try to include the second as well.
    4. Always make sure that the work’s author does not have their own individual call number.
    5. When dealing with multiple subjects, catalog an item based on its broadest subject and/or the first one mentioned if a call number does not exist for all subjects. If all items are covered equally and there is a call number for all subjects, choose a call number that covers a broader subject that immediately covers all topics discussed in the item.
    6. If there are multiple major topics, assign a call number that reflects the topic that fills most of the pages.
    7. At times a work will be about the influence of one subject on another. For example, the influence of Chinese government on the development of Buddhism in China. In that case, you would classify the work in the context of the development of Buddhism in China. The influence of Chinese government would be given secondary, if any, importance. It would only be included in the last part of the item.

    Apply Your Knowledge

    Yes, now it is time for you to go and learn yourselves about the inextricable web of headings, class numbers, captions, and tables known as Classification Web. Good luck!

    An interactive H5P element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here:

    Parts of this page were adapted from the Library of Congress Classification Online Training created by Janis L. Young and Daniel N. Joudrey on behalf of the Library of Congress. As an official government publication, this training is in the public domain.

    4.3: Using Classification Web is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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