Library of Congress Classification

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The Library of Congress Classification (LCC) is a system of library classification developed by the Library of Congress. It is used by most research and academic libraries in the U.S. and several other countries[which?]. It is not to be confused with the Library of Congress Subject Headings or Library of Congress Control Number. Most public libraries and small academic libraries continue to use the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC).[citation needed]

The classification was originally developed by Herbert Putnam in 1897, just before he assumed the librarianship of Congress. With advice from Charles Ammi Cutter, it was influenced by Cutter Expansive Classification, and the DDC, and was specially designed for the special purposes of the Library of Congress. The new system replaced a fixed location system developed by Thomas Jefferson. By the time of Putnam's departure from his post in 1939, all the classes except K (Law) and parts of B (Philosophy and Religion) were well developed. It has been criticized as lacking a sound theoretical basis; many of the classification decisions were driven by the particular practical needs of that library, rather than epistemological considerations.

Although it divides subjects into broad categories, it is essentially enumerative in nature. It provides a guide to the books actually in the library, not a classification of the world.

The National Library of Medicine classification system (NLM) uses the classification scheme's unused letters W and QSQZ. Some libraries use NLM in conjunction with LCC, eschewing LCC's R (Medicine). Others prefer to use the LCC scheme's QP-QR schedules and include Medicine R.


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