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Resources for Applied Art, Art History, and Visual Culture students at Butler University

What are LC Class Numbers and Subjects?

Items in the catalog are assigned Subject Headings in the catalog.  Subject Headings are meant to capture the most essential themes and content of the material (books, recordings, eResources, etc.).  When you search by subjects, you are able to find a smaller collection of items that share the same essential subject matter.  In catalog records, subjects are hyperlinked so that you can click on related subjects to browse related groups of items. You can also combine subjects in searches to get narrower results.


At Butler University, all of the libraries use the Library of Congress (LC) Classification System.  For those accustomed to the Dewey Decimal System, the LC System may look strange because it combines letters and numbers. Every LC call number begins with a letter or letters which designate the general subject of the material and knowing helpful classification numbers will help you browse the catalog and the stacks for related material.


A chart with a sample library of congress call number and explanations of how to interpret each part if you are browsing books in the stacks. Call numbers in the Library of Congress system are organized from general classification to more specific identifying information in each part. The sample call number is "PS3527 .E917 G7 1925 V.3." The first part, "PS3527," is the classification number. You read the letters in alphabetical order, so A comes before B, and P comes before PA, comes before PB.  PS would come between PR and PT.  The number is read in ascending numerical order.  One comes before two, which comes before three.  In this example, PS3527 would come between PS3526 and PS3528. The second part of the call number is the Cutter number.  These have a decimal point at the beginning, followed by an initial letter then a number.  Sometimes a call number can have two Cutter numbers, as our example does, ".E917" and "G7."  In both cases you would interpret the number as decimal numbers, so ".E917" would come between ".E91" and ".E92" and "G7" would come between "G69" and "G71." The third part of the call number is the publication date.  This is the year the book was published.  Editions of the same book, published in different years, are arranged in chronological order.  In our example, the book was published in 1925.  The last part of the call number is the enumeration. If a book has multiple volumes, parts, or copies, those are arranged in numerical order.  In our example, this is volume three, "V.3" which would be shelved between volumes 2 and 4.

Library of Congress Classification and Subject Headings

Use these classifications to browse the stacks for arts-related materials

Fine Arts are Classification N

  • N -- Visual Arts (including Art History, Exhibitions, and Galleries and Museums)
  • NA -- Architecture
  • NB -- Sculpture
  • NC -- Drawing, Design, Illustration
  • ND -- Painting
  • NE -- Print Media
  • NK -- Decorative Arts
  • NX -- Arts in General (including Arts Administration)
    • NX760-770 Administration of the arts
    • NX775-777 Voluntarism in the arts
    • NX798-820 Arts centers and facilities

Technology (Classification T) also has arts-related material

  • TP -- Chemical Technology
    • Especially TP785-945 which covers ceramics, glass, textiles, and paints
  • TR -- Photography
  • TT -- Handicrafts. Arts and Crafts.
    • Especially TT180-927 which covers woodworking, metalworking, painting, furniture making, furnishings, dressmaking, tailoring, and home crafts (including sewing, embroidery, and decorative crafts)

You may wish to also consider these related subjects:

  • PN1560-3300- Performing Arts, Drama, Theatre, Film
  • ML- Music History and Criticism
  • GV1580-1799.4- Dance


Art -- Ancient

Art -- History

Art -- Medieval

Art -- Modern

Art and technology

Art appreciation

Art criticism

Art objects

Commercial art

Decorative arts


Folk art

Gender identity in art

Graphic arts


Painting -- History

Photography, Artistic

Public art

Women artists

Women artists --Biography

Women in art

Harm Mitigation in the Catalog

Items in the catalog are assigned Subject Headings in the catalog.  Subject Headings are meant to capture the most essential themes and content of the material (books, recordings, eResources, etc.).  The subject headings we use at Butler University are overseen by the Library of Congress, which is often slow to change, making some of the terms out of date.  

In an effort to make the Butler Libraries' catalog more inclusive we are working on a creating local subject headings to replace existing outdated and potentially harmful subject headings.  If you find a troubling subject term(s) in our catalog, please submit it through the below form with a suggestion(s) of an alternative term(s).  

Butler Libraries Subject Heading Request Form

When reading a catalog record, you can find Library of Congress Subject Headings after the ISBN:


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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