Interpreting call numbers in CIP

Dear Elsie

I’m learning about classification and have been assigned a book for which I’m supposed to reconstruct the full cataloging, using the following CIP information: 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Offill, Jenny, 1968–Dept. of speculation / Jenny Offill. pages cm

ISBN 978-0-385-35081-5eBook ISBN: 978-0-385-35102-7

  1. 2. Family life—Fiction.  3. Domestic fiction4. Psychological fiction.  I. Title.  II. Title: Department of speculation.



I understand most of the elements but am confused about the last three lines.  I know one is the LCCN itself, but the other two are confusing, and I haven’t been able to find guidance online.  I suspect they are classification numbers, but from where is the information collected to find relevant numbers for the book?

Languishing in Lincolnshire


Dear Languishing,

You are correct that the last three lines are the LCCN and classification numbers.  I will try to break them down and give you some idea of how they are derived.

Of those last three lines, the first (PS3565.F383D47 2014) is the Library of Congress call number.

Here I will get a little didactic and point out the difference between a class number and a call number.  A class number is the part of a call number that represents the principal subject matter or nature of a work (in this case, PS3565, American literature, individual authors with careers beginning in the period 1961-2000, names starting with O).  A Cutter number, or as it is still sometimes called, a book number, specifies which work (or in RDA terms, which manifestation) is represented, for the purposes of specific retrieval.  In this case there are two Cutters, .F383 for Offill (note that it is based on the second letter of her name) and D47 for the title, plus the date of publication.  The class number and the Cutter number together make up the complete call number.

Using classification systems is a complex operation and could be (and often is) a course in itself.  Briefly, the Library of Congress edits and publishes the Library of Congress Classification (LCC).  Summaries and outlines can be found in various places, including LC's own website: and more information can be found one page back, at

I would say that most libraries using LCC currently probably access it online, either through Cataloger's Desktop (which combines a number of cataloging tools) or Classification Web (the classification alone); links to both resources are on the second web page I cited above. 

The next line of the record (813’.54—dc23) contains the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) class number that LC has assigned to the book.  Notice I said class number, not call number.  LC assigns complete Library of Congress call numbers for two reasons: most importantly because that is (unsurprisingly) the classification it uses for its own collections, but also because the LC Classification includes general instructions for assigning Cutter numbers.  But the DDC assignment is just a service to libraries using DDC, one of LC's functions as a national library; DDC is not used within the Library of Congress.  Also, DDC contains no instructions at all for Cuttering, and different libraries have widely varying Cuttering practices. 

The Dewey Decimal Classification, published for many years by Forest Press, is now owned and maintained by OCLC, which has information about it starting here:

The online version of the DDC is called WebDewey.  OCLC increasingly encourages its use, and in fact has decided to discontinue publishing print editions of the English-language classification.

As with LC Classification, summaries of DDC are widely available.  There is a link to one here: as well as to the introduction to DDC 23, a glossary of the sometimes arcane terminology peculiar to the classification, training materials, and other resources.

The prime mark between 813 and.54, by the way, is a logical break point where the number can be shortened for smaller collections not needing a highly detailed classification for their materials.  The notation "dc23" means that it was constructed using the 23rd (full) edition of DDC.

The number in the last line (2013019367) is the Library of Congress Control Number (formerly the Library of Congress Card Number, but LC no longer uses catalog cards).  It is a unique identification number that LC assigns to anything they acquire or may acquire for their collections.  There is some information from LC itself in answer 4 of the Frequently Asked Questions on this page:

Be aware that when you say "LCCN," cataloging types are likely to assume you mean this number, not the LC call number; the two have nothing to do with each other aside from both being associated with the Library of Congress.

If you want to do some further reading, introductory cataloging textbooks normally include discussions of both LCC and DDC.  Both Introduction to Cataloging and Classification by Daniel N. Joudrey, Arlene G. Taylor, and David P. Miller (11th edition, 2015; previous editions by Arlene G. Taylor) and Cataloging and Classification: An Introduction by Lois Mai Chan and Athena Salaba (4th edition, 2016) are good.

Good luck!

Bibliographically yours, Elsie

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