When you walk into the Reading Room of the Law Library of Congress, you might notice something you haven’t seen in a while. A card catalog that is still in use, though no new cards have been added since December 1980.
The Library of Congress Classification (LCC) is a classification system that was first developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to organize and arrange the book collections of the Library of Congress. Over the course of the twentieth century, the system was adopted for use by other libraries as well, especially large academic libraries in the United States. It is currently one of the most widely used library classification systems in the world.
Within the 21 basic classes of the Library of Congress Classification system, law is classified under the letter K . Because law was the last subject to be classified, patrons still need to use the card catalog in some instances.
The online catalog still contains many law items which have the old classification designations: e.g. LAW United States New York 2 or LAW Europe West Germany 7. There are also law items in the online catalog which only have the classification “LAW.” In these instances, the user will need to check the main entry card in the card catalog for additional information needed to retrieve an item from the Law Library’s collection of 2.65 million items. There are also a handful of law items which do not appear in the online catalog at all, and patrons doing historical research are always urged to check the card catalog.
Special thanks to Margaret Wood for contributions to this post.