Section 5.0 Classification, Cataloging & Citation

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5.1 What are classification systems and cataloging systems?

A classification system is simply a method for organizing books and other bibliographic items. Collections are usually organized by subject. Examples of classification systems are:

  • the familiar Dewey Decimal Classification System, which is used in most school libraries and public libraries, , see section 5.1 below, and
  • the Library of Congress classification system,, used in most university and research libraries, see section 5.3 below.

A library catalog is the ordered list of materials the library holds, and cataloging is the preparation of entries for the library catalog. A cataloger prepares a bibliographic record on the material, i.e. author, title, date, subject, etc., and this list of holdings is accessed via either a traditional card catalog system or computerized Online Public Assess Catalog (OPAC).

MAchine Readable Cataloging, MARC, is an international digital standard for bibliographic records designed to aid the dissemination of bibliographic records between libraries. See, Understanding MARC Bibliographic: Machine-Readable Cataloging, ; this introduction to MARC (MAchine-Readable Cataloging) records was jointly created by the Library of Congress and the Follett Software Company.

LION's Cataloging Resources for School Libraries, , provides resources that school librarians may find useful when cataloging library and media center materials.



5.2 What are the major classifications of the Dewey Decimal Classification System?

There are ten main categories in DDC. These are divided into ten subcategories, which in turn are divided into further subcategories. The more specific the subject of the item is, the longer the number assigned to it. The DDC is published by Forest Press, which became a division of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. in 1988, .

The Dewey Decimal System

000-099: General works (encyclopedias and similar works)
100-199: Philosophy and Psychology
200-299: Religion
300-399: Social Sciences
400-499: Languages (including dictionaries)
500-599: Natural science
600-699: Applied science
700-799: Arts
800-899: Literature
900-999: History, Geography and Biography .


5.3 What are the twenty major classes of Library of Congress?

A: General works
B: Philosophy and religion
C: History - auxiliary sciences
D: History and topography (except American)
E-F: American history
G: Geography, anthropology, folklore, recreation
H: Social sciences
J: Political science
K: Law
KE: Canadian Law
KF: U.S. Law
L: Education
M: Music
N: Fine arts
P: Language and literature
Q: Science
R: Medicine
S: Agriculture
T: Technology
U: Military science
V: Naval science
Z: Bibliography and library science

See also, Matt Rosenberg's ( ) Library of Congress Classification System page at the Mining Company: .



5.4 What are the classes of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) & Black's
Dental Classification?

You can see examples of MeSH at

QS: Human Anatomy
QT: Physiology
QU: Biochemistry
QV: Pharmacology
QW: Bacteriology & Immunology
QX: Parasitology
QY: Clinical Pathology
QZ: Pathology
W: Medical Profession
WA: Public Health
WB: Practice of Medicine
WC: Infectious Diseases
WD 100: Deficiency Diseases
WD 200: Metabolic Diseases
WD 300: Diseases of Allergy
WD 400: Animal Poisoning
WD 500: Plant Poisoning
WD 600: Diseases Caused by Physical Agents
WE: Musculoskeletal System
WF: Respiratory System
WG: Cardiovascular System
WH: Hemic amp; Lymphatic Systems
WI: Gastrointestinal System
WJ: Urogenital System
WK: Endocrine System
WL: Nervous System
WM: Psychiatry
WN: Radiology
WO: Surgery
WP: Gynecology
WQ: Obstetrics
WR: Dermatology
WS: Pediatrics
WT: Geriatrics. Chronic Disease
WU: Dentistry. Oral Surgery
WV: Otorhinolaryngology
WW: Opthalmology
WX: Hospitals
WY: Nursing
WZ: History of Medicine

Black's Dental Classification
D Dentistry in general
D01-09 Form numbers
D1-17 Basic sciences
D2-29 Operative dentistry
D3-38 Prosthetic dentistry
D4-47 Orthodontics
D5-59 Dental health
D6-69 Oral pathology
D7-79 Oral surgery
D8-89 Dental practice and management
D9-95 Anesthesia


5.5 What are the ten major classes of Universal Decimal Classification?

In Universal Decimal Classification, UDC, "knowledge is divided into ten classes, then each class is subdivided into its logical parts, each subdivision is further subdivided, and so on....the universe of information (all recorded knowledge) is treated as a coherent system, built of related parts." See the UDC in Brief, . The UDC also has the ability to express interrelations between subjects through auxiliary tables and signs.

The Universal Decimal Classification Consortium, , publishes a Master Reference File, with more than 61 000 subdivisions; it is available in database format.

0: Generalities. Science and Knowledge Organization. Information Documentation. Librarianship. Institutions. Publications.
1: Philosophy and psychology
2 : Religion and theology
3 : Social sciences; Statistics; Politics; Economics; Trade; Law;
Governments; Military affairs; Welfare; Insurance; Education; Folklore
4 : [vacant]
5 : Mathematics and natural sciences
6 : Applied Sciences
7 : The Arts. Recreation. Entertainment. Sport
8 : Language. Linguistics. Literature
9 : Geography. Biography. History



5.6 What other classification or subject heading systems are there?

A description of Canadian Subject Headings can be found at Queen's University, .

Sears Subject Headings are used in some schools and small libraries. Sears List of Subject Headings 16th ed. H. W. Wilson, 1997. 786 p. ISBN 0-8242-0920-6

Information on David Elazar's "A Classification System for Libraries of Judaica" can be found at his home page:



5.7 How do I cite information I find on the Internet?

The purpose of a citation is to allow the reader to identify and relocate the document. Librarians often raise three concerns in citing Internet and electronic sources:

  1. Establishing permanent citations in a medium where documents are continually changing and moving;
  2. Refering readers to specific point in an on-line source when page numbers are not present;
  3. Citing mailing list documents that may not be permanently archived.

There is no universally agreed upon method for citing Internet sources, but recommended guidelines for Internet citing are generally based on the following styles:

Ann Robinson's Citing Internet Sources page, , is a good source of links to sites covering citation formats.

Andrew Harnack and Gene Kleppinger's Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources, contains an excellent citation guide, , as well as being a good general guide to doing research on the Net. Harnack and Kleppinger's Beyond the MLA Handbook, is a classic critique of some of the proposed methods of Internet citation,

For those of us seeking a quick guide to Internet citation, a Quick Guide: Citing Net Sources, is provided by The Ohio State University Libraries.

If you want a detailed and authoritative discussion on Internet citation, consult
Electronic Style: A Guide to Citing Electronic Information, by Xia Li and Nancy Crane,




5.8 How do I set up a cataloging system for a small or private library?

This is probably the most often asked question I receive via e-mail, and it comes up a lot on library discussion groups. Many people are looking for practical advice on how to organize private book collections or small specialized libraries. This is definately an area where one person's experience could be a huge help to others, so if any of you have suggestions or advice on this topic, please forward them to me. Also, be sure to look at Section 4.13 of the FAQ, where I've included links to web sites covering school and church libraries.

There are two issues in setting a library:

  1. what classification system to use
  2. what cataloging system to use


A classification system is simply a pre-established principle for organizing books and other bibliographic items. Examples are:

  • the familiar Dewey Decimal Classification System, which is used in most school libraries and public libraries.
  • the Library of Congress classification system, used in most university and research libraries. One advantage of the Library of Cogress system is that you can look up titles in the Library of Congress' catalog and get the LC classification numbers,

A specialized or private library might devise its own system of classification. Bookstores organize their sections by trying to anticipate the needs of its users and arranging the books to facilitate those needs.


Cataloging is how a library maintains its list of materials. A cataloging systems allows searching and helps manage circulation. A bibliographic record is needed on each book; the record can be just basic data, i.e. author, title, date, subject. These records can be kept in a traditional card catalog or stored online using cataloging software.

Cataloging software

The simplest software solution is to set up the bibliographic record in Word or Excel. Many small libraries take advantage of the string searching capability in Word or Excel and create catalog records that are both searchable and custom formatted.

Here is a list of some specialized library cataloging software I've seen recommended for small libraries:

Diakon Systems,, has a downloadable evaluation version of its "PC Card Catalog" program, a Windows-based cataloging and circulation system. Its cost ranges from the $199 to $398 depending on the modules you buy. Librarians generally give all the Diakon programs high marks.

Many librarians recommend InMagic Plus, , which is a free-ware DOS system, said to be very powerful for a small library. InMagic also has commercial software,

The PrimaSoft Book Organizer,, is aimed at book collectors, hobbyists, book clubs, small private or public libraries. It's received postive reviews for its ease of installation, intuitive use, and customability. It can be tried free for 30 days.

You should also check out Right On Programs, . They provide automation software for small libraries, but some have reported them a bit pricey (~$500?) for a small library.

Cnet has listed some Windows 95/98 Book Collection Managers that are worth a look: .

And for more information on the management of small libraries:

Selected References On Starting And Managing A Special Library (Special Libraries Assoc.)

AUTOCAT is an electronic forum for the discussion of all questions relating to cataloging and authority control in libraries. The range of topics discussed extends from the very broad to the very specific, from the very theoretical to the most pragmatic.


See previous section 4.0 Work

Go to section 6.0 Organizations

Anthony Wilson

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