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Library and Information Science:
A Guide to Online Resources

Link disclaimerFrequently Asked Questions

People working at desks in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress
People working at desks in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.
Photographic print,
between 1930 and 1950.
Prints and Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-100401

This page provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Library's collections and services. The questions are divided into several topic areas; topics are arranged in order of popularity.

Online Books
1. Does the Library make the full text of books available on its Web site?
2. Where can I find full-text books online?

Library Numbers
1 . What do the different Library of Congress numbers mean?
2 . What classification system does the Library of Congress use?
3. Why are the letters I, O, W, X, and Y not used in the Library of Congress Classification?
4 . How do I read a Library of Congress call number?
5 . What is the difference between a Preassigned Control Number (PCN) and a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)? If my book is assigned one of these numbers, is it guaranteed to be included in the Library's collections?
6. What is the difference between an ISBN-10 and an ISBN-13? Is there a tool to convert between these numbers? Does the Library's online catalog support searching for ISBN-10s and ISBN-13s?
7. Is there an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) database I can use that will allow me to extract bibliographic data for books and import them into a local database?

Determining Classification and Call Numbers
1. How do I find a book's Dewey Decimal classification (DDC) number?
2. How do I find a book's Library of Congress Classification (LCC) number?
3. How do I correlate a Dewey number with a Library of Congress call number or Library of Congress Subject Heading?

Cataloging and Catalog Records
1. How do I find a catalog record for a book?
2. Are records for all of the titles listed in the print National Union Catalog (NUC) now available through the Library of Congress online catalog and WorldCat database?
3. Can Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) be accessed online?

Determining a Book's Literary Form and Reading Level
1. How do I tell whether a book is poetry or prose? Does the Library of Congress indicate this in its catalog records?
2. How do I tell whether a book is fiction or nonfiction? Does the Library of Congress indicate this in its catalog records?
3. How do I determine a book's reading level? Does the Library of Congress assign reading levels to books?

The Library on the Web
1. What are the major milestones in the history of the Library's Web site and online presence?
2. How much data is represented by the Library's physical and digital collections?
3. What type of Integrated Library System does the Library use?
4. How do I cite materials on the Library of Congress Web site? What resources are available for learning how to cite other electronic and print materials?

Copyright Records
1. How can I search copyright registration and renewal records online?

Organizing and Automating My Library
1. How do I organize my personal library or church library?
2. How do I automate my library?

The Library and the Book of Secrets
1. Is the Book of Secrets from National Treasure 2 a real book?

Other Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where can I find other lists of frequently asked questions on the Library’s Web site?
2. Can the Library tell me how much my book, artwork, or other item is worth?
3. How can I obtain a copy of a book from the Library? Does the Library allow users to borrow books?
4. Why isn't my book held by the Library of Congress?
5. Does the Library of Congress hold U.S. doctoral dissertations, and are they available online?

 

Online Books

1. Does the Library of Congress make full-text books available on its Web site?

Overview

The Library of Congress provides access to a small number of full-text books, also known as e-books, on its Web site. The easiest way to search for e-books on the Library's Web site is to go to its main search page, select "Book" from the Search drop-down menu at the top of the page, and conduct a keyword search in the search box. A list of digitized texts available on the Library's Web site will be returned. Options for refining the list of results will appear in the menu at the left of the results page.

Please note that full-text books available through the Library's Web site tend to be older publications published prior to 1923 that are no longer under U.S. copyright protection. Academic textbooks and recent works of fiction cannot be found on the Library's Web site, and recent nonfiction on the site is limited to Library of Congress publications such as annual reports, illustrated collection guides, Federal Research Division country studies, and a history of the Library of Congress. Your best option for locating contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction is to contact your local public library, which may provide access to an ebook service through which you can download books to your computer, Mac, or portable device. If a book is not available electronically or in print through your local library, you can often place an interlibrary loan request with your local library to access a print edition of a book from another library.

Dowloading Books to the Kindle, Nook, and Other E-book readers

Library of Congress e-books suitable for dowloading to the Kindle, Nook, and other E-book readers can be found through the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive includes the full text of more than 4.5 million online books and texts, including works of fiction, popular books, children's books, historical texts, and academic books. Books can be dowloaded and read in a variety of formats, including text (.txt), PDF, ePub, Mobi (for Amazon.com's Kindle), DAISY, and DJVU. Many Internet Archive e-books compatible with e-book readers can also be found through the Open Library, an Internet Archive initiative.

The Library has contributed more than 133,000 full-text items to the Internet Archive, and new books are added each week. While it is possible to limit a search of the Internet Archive to books digitized by the Library of Congress, readers interested in searching across the largest possible number of free e-books for their e-readers–not merely those digitized from the Library's collections–will find it preferable to use the Internet Archive's Ebook and Texts Archive to search for all e-books available through it. Readers who would like to limit their search to Library of Congress e-books available thorugh the Internet Archive can do so by going to its Advanced Search page, selecting contributor from one of the Custom Field drop-down menus, and entering Library of Congress as the contributor. Readers can then create a search query using the other search fields.

Users of specific e-readers will want to check online FAQs and help pages associated with their e-readers for more information about locating e-books they can download. See, for instance, Amazon.com's page on locating free e-books for the Kindle, and Barnes & Noble.com's listing of free Nook books.

Further Details on Locating Library of Congress E-books

Descriptions of the various areas of the Library's Web site where full-text books can be found, and tips for accessing them (some technical in nature), are provided below. Further details on how to access e-books through the Library of Congress and other sources can be found in "Finding E-books: A Guide." The books available through the resources below represent only a small fraction of the more than 21 million books cataloged by the Library.

Digitized Books in the Library of Congress Online Catalog

A number of full-text books can be found on the Library's Web site through the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

General Tips

To retrieve records for digitized books in the Library's online catalog, you can search the MARC 985 field (learn more about MARC here). The keyword massdig is used in subfield $a to designate books digitized as part of mass digitization projects, such as the Sloan Foundation project. The keyword pmpull is used for books digitized individually or manually, such as those in the Digital Interlibrary Loan Program. Conducting an Expert Search on the string massdig or pmpull would pull up records for all digitized books in the catalog if the number of results did not exceed 10,000 (which it does).

If you know the correct MARC 985 keyword, it is possible to conduct an expert search to retrieve specific digitized book subsets, such as Sloan Foundation books, International Digital Children's Library books, etc. To conduct a keyword search across all digitized books in the catalog, you can try the following Expert Search strings:

(massdig or pmpull) and keyword

(massdig or pmpull) and ("keyword phrase" and/or/not "keyword phrase")

For example, try: (massdig or pmpull) and (poetry and lincoln). You can modify the above strings to search within specific MARC fields.

Specific Digitized Collections in the Library's Online Catalog

American Memory Books

The above link provides access to more than 1,200 digitized books available through the Library's American Memory collections (please allow several seconds for the page to load). American Memory collections with the most books listed in the catalog follow:

American Memory

Full-text books and periodicals available through American Memory's The Nineteenth Century in Print collections are not available through the online catalog.

Global Gateway Books

The above link provides access to more than 500 digitized books available through the Library's Global Gateway collections (please allow several seconds for the page to load). Global Gateway collections with books listed in the catalog follow:

Global Gateway

Digital Interlibrary Loan Books

The above link retrieves more than 1,000 full-text books made available through the Library's Digital Interlibrary Loan Program (please allow several seconds for the page to load). This program, designed to provide access to books too fragile to circulate on interlibrary loan, was discontinued in early 2008.

Sloan Foundation Digitized Books

The above link (please allow several seconds for the page to load) leads to 10,000 records for full-text books digitized as part of a program funded by a $2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The program, "Digitizing American Imprints at the Library of Congress," focuses on public domain works, with a major focus on at-risk brittle books and U.S. history volumes. The full text of all Library of Congress titles currently digitized as part of the Sloan Foundation grant (more than 66,000 titles as of May 6, 2013) can be found through the Internet Archive. This is a subset of the more than 133,000 items currently available from the Library on the Internet Archive.

Note: To conduct a search of the Internet Archive for Library books part of the Sloan Foundation project, go the Advanced Search page. In one Custom Field drop-down menu, select the sponsor (not sponser) option and enter Sloan Foundation as the sponsor. In a second Custom Field drop-down menu, select the contributor option and enter Library of Congress as the contributor. Your search will now be limited to Sloan Foundation books contributed by the Library.

Other scanned books

The above link retrieves more than 500 full-text books not part of American Memory, Global Gateway, or the Digital Interlibrary Loan Program (please allow several seconds for the page to load).

Other Online Library Books

Several other areas of the Library's Web site provide access to full-text books. The Library's Rare Book & Special Collections Division makes available digitized items from its collections, including a number of books, on its Web pages. More recent Library of Congress publications, such as a history of the Library of Congress, annual reports, illustrated collection guides, and Federal Research Division country studies, can be found through the Library's publications page.

The Library of Congress has contributed more than 50,000 full-text items to the Internet Archive; more books are added each week. To search Library of Congress books by keyword or title, go to the Advanced Search page, select contributor from one of the Custom Field drop-down menus, and enter Library of Congress as the contributor. Then, create a search query using the other search fields.

2. Where can I find full-text books online?

There are numerous organizations that provide access to full-text books online, though at present most free online books tend to be older materials no longer covered by copyright. Some publishers provide electronic versions of contemporary books, but unless you are able to access them through a public or university library subscription, there is usually a fee involved.

Several Web sites through which full-text books or listings of full-text book resources can be found follow:

Google Books

Google has partnered with over 20,000 publishers and authors, and several major research libraries, to makes their books discoverable through Google Books. While only limited text can be viewed from books still under copyright, the full text of many public domain books, especially those published before 1923, is available. Use the Advanced Search page to limit your search to full-text or public domain books.

HathiTrust Digital Library

Through a partnership with more than two dozen research libraries, HathiTrust currently makes available more than 4.9 million digitized volumes, approximately 15 percent of which are in the public domain. The HathiTrust Digital Library complements content available through Google Books: while some content between the two services overlaps, HathiTrust provides some content Google does not, including digital collections unique to participating institutions, works from institutional repositories, and native born-digital materials. In addition to the standard HathiTrust search interface, a prototype search interface available through WorldCat Local is also available.

Internet Archive: Ebook and Texts Archive

The Internet Archive includes the full text of more than 4.5 million online books and texts, including works of fiction, popular books, children's books, historical texts, and academic books. Books can be dowloaded and read in a variety of formats, including text (.txt), PDF, ePub, Mobi (for Amazon.com's Kindle), DAISY, and DJVU. Internet Archive online books can also be found through Open Library, an IA initiative.

National Academies Press Books

The National Academies Press (NAP) now makes all PDF versions of its books, currently totaling more than 4,000 titles, available for free download by users. NAP is the publisher for the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council.

The Online Books Page: Archives and Indexes

A large compilation of full-text literature resources on the Web. Includes sections on general-purpose collections with substantial English-language listings (large-scale repositories; significant indexes and search aids; and significant smaller-scale archives), foreign language and literature resources, and specialty archives.

Questia Online Library - Free Books

The Questia subscription service makes available more than 2 million book and periodical titles focusing on the humanities and social sciences. More than 5,000 books in Questia's collections are made freely available online.

Library Numbers

1. What do the different Library of Congress numbers mean?

There are several Library of Congress numbers which users often conflate. They are:

Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)

A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in union catalogs such as WorldCat and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or commercial suppliers. The Library of Congress assigns this number while the book is being cataloged. Under certain circumstances, however, a card number can be assigned before the book is published through the Preassigned Control Number Program. Please note that not all books that receive an LCCN are cataloged by the Library or added to its collections.

What is now known as the Library of Congress Control Number was originally known as the Library of Congress Card Number until the advent of machine-readable records for book materials in the late 1960s.

An LCCN can have one of two different structures, based on when it was assigned:

89-456 (numbers assigned before 1/1/2001)
2001-1114 (numbers assigned after 1/1/2001)

In addition, LCCNs for some items cataloged before 2001 may include an alphabetic prefix:

gm 69-509
sn 82-6524

In the Library's online catalog, LCCNs are reformatted to remove hyphens and standardize character length. To see what reformatted LCCNs look like, and to find instructions for searching the Library's online catalog by LCCN, go here.

Library of Congress Call Number

A Library of Congress call number is a unique number assigned to items in the Library's collections that represents the item in the Library's online catalog, identifies the specific copy of the item in the collections, and gives its relative location on the shelf. Library of Congress call numbers are assigned by Library catalogers based on the the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system.

For information on the structure of LC call numbers, and how to read them, go here.

Copyright Registration Number

A unique number assigned to all works registered with the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. The copyright registration number is typically formatted as two or three letters (depending on the classification) followed by one to seven digits. Examples include:

SR-320-918
VAu-598-764
TX-4-323-103

Preassigned Control Number

A Preassigned Control Number (PCN) is a Library of Congress Control Number which has been "preassigned" to a given work prior to the work's publication. Works are assigned a PCN through the Preassigned Control Number Program. Please note that obtaining an LCCN for a book through the PCN Program does not guarantee that the book will added to the Library's collections or listed in its online catalog.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit number which identifies all periodical publications as such, including electronic serials. Most countries have an ISSN National Center responsible for assigning ISBNs to serials. In the United States, ISSNs are assigned by the U.S. ISSN Center at the Library of Congress.

Users sometimes confuse the following numbers with a Library of Congress number:

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was approved as ISO standard 2108 in 1970. It is a 10- or 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. The Library of Congress does not assign ISBNs to books. Instead, there are over 160 ISBN Agencies worldwide, each of which is appointed as the exclusive agent responsible for assigning ISBNs to publishers residing in their country or geographic territory. The United States ISBN Agency, R. R. Bowker, is the only source authorized to assign ISBNs to publishers supplying an address in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and its database establishes the publisher of record associated with each prefix. Review the ISBN FAQ for further information.

Universal Product Code (UPC) Number

Also known as a bar code. The UPC number is a string of digits that typically appears on the back of books (and other consumer products). The UPC number appears in association with a machine-readable code that appears as a series of black and white strips or bars. In the United States, UPC numbers are assigned to products by the organization GS1 US. An overview of the UPC can be found on the HowStuffWorks Web site.

2. What classification system does the Library of Congress use?

The Library of Congress classifies books according to the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system. An outline of LCC is available on the Library's Web site. The complete text of the classification schedules in printed volumes may be purchased from the Cataloging Distribution Service. Online access to the complete text of the schedules is available through Classification Web, a subscription product that may also be purchased from the Cataloging Distribution Service.

3. Why are the letters I, O, W, X, and Y not used in the Library of Congress Classification?

The Library of Congress Classification (LCC) consists of 21 main classes, each class represented by a letter of the alphabet. Because only 21 classes were required to represent the major subject areas and disciplines classified by the Library, five letters were not included as part of the LCC. The reason that the particular letters I, O, W, X, and Y were not selected for the LCC is a matter of some debate. There are few extant records that document the development of the LCC, and it appears that none which survive discuss why these letters remained unused.

Despite the lack of documentation, an oral tradition passed down through generations of Library of Congress catalogers accounts for the exclusion of these letters from the LCC. This tradition holds that the letter I was not used because it is too similar to the number 1; use of an I class would cause confusion for people looking for works which had a call number such as I1, I10, and I111. Similarly, the letter O was not selected because it is indistinguishable from the number 0 (zero). W, X, and Y, as the final letters of the alphabet (not including Z), were never needed since there were only 21 classes. Had there been a 22nd class, perhaps W would have been the next letter used, and if there had been a 23rd class created thereafter, perhaps X. The letter Z was chosen as a class rather than W, X, or Y in part because it is the symbolic end of the alphabet. In addition, the Library's Class Z is based upon a Class Z (Book Arts) developed earlier by Charles Ammi Cutter for his Expansive Classification system. Somewhat ironically, Class Z was the first Library class created, prepared in 1898 by Charles Martel.

4. How do I read a Library of Congress call number?

A number of libraries have created guides, videos, and interactive games designed to help users understand how to read Library of Congress call numbers. A selected list of online learning resources are provided below:

Text Guides

"Understanding Library of Congress (LC) Call Numbers," American Museum of Natural History Research Library

"Finding a Book on the Shelf--Library of Congress Classification," Colorado State University Libraries

"How to Read Call Numbers," University of California Berkeley, Kresge Engineering Library

"How to... Understand Call Numbers and LC Classification," Palm Beach Atlantic University Library

Videos

Video: "How to Read a Library of Congress Call Number," University of Arkansas Libraries

Video: "Library of Congress Classification System," Valley Forge Christian College

Interactive Flash-based Games

Shelving by LC Call Number, Carnegie Melon University Libraries

"LC Call Number Quiz," Lewis-Clark State College Library

"Library of Congress Call Number and Shelving Tutorials," Kent State University Libraries

5. What is the difference between a Preassigned Control Number (PCN) and a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)? If my book is assigned one of these numbers, is it guaranteed to be included in the Library's collections?

A Preassigned Control Number (PCN) is a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) assigned as part of the Preassigned Control Number program. As part of the PCN program, a LCCN is "preassigned" to a given work prior to its publication. For further details, see the PCN program FAQ, "What is the difference between a Library of Congress Card Number, a Library of Congress Control Number, and a Preassigned Control Number?"

Please note that while a title may receive an LCCN, the Library of Congress is under no obligation to provide preliminary or final cataloging information within its catalog for titles that are not ultimately selected for the Library's permanent collection. Final determination of works selected and cataloged for the Library is made by selection librarians and recommending officers in compliance with Library of Congress collection development policies upon receipt of the printed book. Please note that many collection policy statements explicitly treat the selection of self-published and vanity press materials. For instance, the collection policy statement for Literature and Language (PDF, 70 KB) notes that:

Works of American popular literature are collected, but vanity press and self-published works are not collected, although self-published works of quality may be collected in areas where self-publishing is an important part of the publishing spectrum (e.g., poetry, African American literature). This holds for materials in any language published or distributed in the U.S.

The collection policy statement for Genealogy (PDF, 44 KB), on the other hand, notes that the Library actively collects self-published genealogical works:

The Library of Congress comprehensively collects published genealogical material, including self-published works, that are related to the United States and its possessions, including all ethnic groups.

6. What is the difference between an ISBN-10 and an ISBN-13? Is there a tool to convert between these numbers? Does the Library's online catalog support searching for ISBN-10s and ISBN-13s?

On January 1, 2007, the book industry began using 13 digit ISBNs to identify all books in the supply chain. The U.S. ISBN Agency notes that this change was effected to "expand the numbering capacity of the ISBN system and alleviate numbering shortages in certain areas of the world," and "to fully align the numbering system for books with the global EAN.UCC identification system that is widely used to identify most other consumer goods worldwide."

An ISBN-13 differs from an ISBN-10 through the inclusion of a three-digit prefix (978 or 979) and a different check digit (final digit) at the end. Conversion tools are available to convert ISBN-10s to ISBN-13s (and vice versa) and to calculate an ISBN's check digit. Please note, however, that ISBN-13s beginning with the prefix 979 have no ISBN-10 counterparts.

The Library of Congress Online Catalog automatically converts between ISBN-10s and ISBN-13s, ensuring that any ISBN search will check for both an ISBN-10 and an ISBN-13. For example, if a catalog record includes only an ISBN-10, a search for the equivalent ISBN-13 will retrieve the record.

7. Is there an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) database I can use that will allow me to extract bibliographic data for books and import them into a local database?

Several extensive book databases allow users to retrieve bibliographic information based on an ISBN search. None of these databases is comprehensive, however. Examples of proprietary databases that allow retrieval of bibliographic information for books based on ISBN are the subscription database Books in Print and the database freely available online through the commercial vendor Amazon.com (see its Advanced Search page). To see if it is possible to configure the information in these databases for your needs, and to obtain permission to do so, you will need to contact and obtain the permission of the vendor.

While the Library of Congress generally cannot provide technical support services for individuals creating their own catalogs or databases, the Library of Congress online catalog allows users to search for and retrieve catalog records based on ISBNs. If you would like to use the information in the catalog to develop a Web-based application that captures bibliographic information based on an item's ISBN, the Library supports a Web service that allows users to retrieve catalog records in XML. In order to take advantage of this service, known as SRU (Search/Retrieval via URL), users must have the ability to display the XML data in the format they desire. Below are some examples of SRU requests that retrieve the same record from the Library's catalog (via its Z39.50 interface). The final two examples make use of XSLT style sheets created by the Library. Users can also develop their own style sheets and retrieve the raw XML records using requests similar to the first one listed below.

SRU Request Examples

Please note that the Library of Congress online catalog does not include a record for every book published in the United States. Furthermore, not every book receives an ISBN. A number of other libraries' catalogs are also available using the Z39.50 protocol. Many are listed on the Library's Z39.50 gateway.

Another solution is to use a batch search facility that allows Library of Congress catalog records to be exported into a desired format, or provides you with a tool set that you can use to create style sheets to perform the desired conversion. Two such batch search facilities (which are both present in Z39.50 clients) are:

MarcEdit (free)

Includes a batch search mode. The input file can be a file of ISBNs, ISSNs, titles, or other data (and one can customize a search using YAZ search syntax). The output is a file that contains all of the records that were retrieved from the target database using the input file. For more information about this tool, please consult the MarcEdit online tutorials.

BookWhere (for fee)

Includes a batch search mode. BookWhere functions much the same as MarcEdit.
Users construct the input file the one search term per line. BookWhere, however,can convert the output file to a number of formats: text, tabbed text, Reference Manager, Ibidem, Citation 7/8, Refer, InMagic, ProCite, EdiBase, XML, HTML, MARCXML, Dublin Core.

Information about other, similar tools may be found on the Library’s MARC Specialized Tools Web site.

While accessing a data set from the Library's database using tools such as those mentioned above, please instruct your software to pause for 5-10 seconds between every ten records to allow other users access to it.

If you have further questions, please contact the Digital Reference Section. Staff will be happy to refer your question to a Library expert.

Determining Classification and Call Numbers

1. How do I find a book's Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) number?

There is no comprehensive resource or database that you can check to locate a book's Dewey decimal number. The best place to begin your search is the Library of Congress Online Catalog. When you open a record for a book in the catalog, look for a field labeled "Dewey Class No." If this field is listed, it will give the book's Dewey classification, as below:

Not every book cataloged by the Library includes a Dewey number. The Library's Dewey Program participates in the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Program by assigning a Dewey Decimal Classification number to every CIP record. Because the CIP Program limits eligibility to titles that are most likely to be widely acquired by the nation's libraries, the Dewey Program directly serves those libraries. The Dewey Program also assigns Dewey numbers to books in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

If you don't find a book's Dewey number through the Library's online catalog, another resource you can use to locate it is OCLC's WorldCat database. WorldCat functions as a collective catalog of thousands of libraries around the world. A subscription version of WorldCat is available at some public and many academic libraries, while a free version is available on the Web at http://www.worldcat.org. The subscription version of WorldCat will often provide the Dewey class number (the first part of the Dewey number) for a book, and both the subscription and free versions list libraries known to hold copies of a book. Search the catalogs of the public libraries that WorldCat lists as holding a copy of a book to see if any have assigned the book a Dewey number. The numbers may vary slightly from one library to another based on local guidelines and standards, but but they will give you an idea of the Dewey numbers that libraries have assigned to a specific book.

Another option is to use a prototype service developed by OCLC known as Classify. Classify is designed to support the assignment of classification numbers for books, DVDs, CDs, and many other types of materials. Using Classify, you can identify a work by title, author, ISBN, LCCN, UPC, or OCLC number. The record that is returned will include the Dewey classification (as well as the LC classification) most commonly assigned to that work by WorldCat member libraries.

2. How do I find a book's Library of Congress Classification (LCC) number?

There is no comprehensive resource or database that you can check to locate a book's Library of Congress classification number. The best place to begin your search is the Library of Congress Online Catalog. When you open a record for a book in the catalog, look for a field labeled "LC Classification." If this field is listed, it will give the book's LC classification.

The Library's online catalog does not include a record for every book every published. In addition, some records for recent works are incomplete and have yet to include a book's LCC. If you don't find a book's LCC through the online catalog, another resource you can use to locate it is OCLC's WorldCat database. WorldCat functions as a collective catalog of thousands of libraries around the world. A subscription version of WorldCat is available at some public and many academic libraries, while a free version is available on the Web at http://www.worldcat.org. The subscription version of WorldCat will often provide the LC classification for a book, and both the subscription and free versions list libraries known to hold copies of a book. Search the catalogs of the academic libraries that WorldCat lists as holding a copy of a book to see if any have assigned the book an LCC. The numbers may vary slightly from one library to another based on local guidelines and standards, but they will give you an idea of the LC classification number (and LC call number) that libraries have assigned to a specific book.

Another option is to use a prototype service developed by OCLC known as Classify. Classify is designed to support the assignment of classification numbers for books, DVDs, CDs, and many other types of materials. Using Classify, you can identify a work by title, author, ISBN, LCCN, UPC, or OCLC number. The record that is returned will include the LC classification (as well as the Dewey classification) most commonly assigned to that work by WorldCat member libraries.

3. How do I correlate a Dewey number with a Library of Congress classification number or Library of Congress Subject Heading?

A subscription database known as Classification Web provides correlations between Dewey and Library of Congress classification numbers, as well as between these call numbers and Library of Congress Subject Headings. You can check with your local library to see if it has access to this database.

A print resource which provides a similar function, though not as comprehensively, is the 3rd edition of Mona L. Scott's 3-volume Conversion Tables (v. 1, LC-Dewey; v. 2, Dewey-LC; v. 3, Subject Headings-LC and Dewey).

A very general classification conversion tool, available for free online, is provided on OCLC's reference management service QuestionPoint. See the following two pages:

Map LC (LCC) to Dewey (DDC) Classification

Map Dewey (DDC) Classification to LC (LCC)

These pages note that "mappings to LCC classes D, J and K are still in process. LCC Class R has been replaced, in QuestionPoint, by National Library of Medicine (NLM) Classes QS-QZ and W. Most NLM Classes map to 362.1-362.3 and 610-618.97."

Cataloging and Catalog Records

1. How do I find an online catalog record for a book?

Three major types of online catalogs make catalog records for books available to the public: local library catalogs, national library catalogs, and union catalogs.

Local Library Catalogs

A local library catalog, such as the catalog for a public library or an academic library, contains records for items held by a single library. To find out what items are held by your local public library, you can search its online catalog, if one is available. The following two Web sites can help you identify your local library, and whether it may have a Web site or an online catalog.

lib-web-cats

A directory of more than 5,000 libraries around the world. Includes links to each library's Web site and online catalog.

LibDex

An index to more than 18,000 libraries' Web sites and online catalogs.

National Library Catalogs

National library catalogs are much larger than local library catalogs. A national library typically includes an extensive, if not comprehensive, collection of works published in a given country, and its catalog provides a primary access point to these items. Examples of online national library catalogs are:

Library of Congress Online Catalog

British Library Integrated Catalogue

National Library of China Online Public Access Catalogs (select NLC Online Catalogs link)

Other national library catalogs are listed by the University of Queensland Library.

Union Catalogs

Union catalogs are catalogs which list the holdings of multiple libraries. These catalogs can be used to identify which libraries hold a particular item. Two of the most important online union catalogs are:

The European Library

The European Library is a free service that offers access to the resources of the 47 national libraries of Europe in 20 languages. Resources can be both digital and bibliographical (books, posters, maps, sound recordings, videos, etc.).

WorldCat

WorldCat is the largest union catalog in the world, providing access to nearly 158 million bibliographic records that represent more than one billion items and the holdings of more than 71,000 libraries around the world. Using WorldCat, you can discover which libraries nearest you hold an item you'd like to access. See WorldCat's About page for additional information.

2. Are records for all of the titles listed in the print National Union Catalog (NUC) now available through the Library of Congress online catalog and WorldCat database?

Although a search of OCLC's WorldCat database and the Library of Congress online catalog retrieves many records listed in the print editions of the National Union Catalog, a number of records are still unavailable. A 2008 article in College & Research Libraries, "The Proportion of NUC Pre-56 Titles Represented in the RLIN and OCLC Databases Compared: A Follow-up to the Beall/Kafadar Study" (PDF, 362 KB), estimated that 25% of NUC Pre-1956 records were not listed in WorldCat. (To read the 2005 Beall/Kafadar study, click here.) It is unlikely that WorldCat has reached 100% inclusivity in the intervening years, making a search of NUC an important supplement to WorldCat.

In addition, due to the manner in which the retrospective conversion of the Library's old card catalog to online form was undertaken, NUC continues to include some entries for works in the Library's collections not listed in the Library's online catalog. Consequently, it should be consulted in any thorough examination of the Library's resources.

3. Can Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) be accessed online?

There are several ways to access and search Library of Congress Subject Headings online. First, LCSH are freely accessible through the Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies service. LCSH in this service includes all Library of Congress Subject Headings, free-floating subdivisions (topical and form), Genre/Form headings, Children's (AC) headings, and validation strings for which authority records have been created. The content includes a few name headings (personal and corporate), such as William Shakespeare, Jesus Christ, and Harvard University; and geographic headings that are added to LCSH as they are needed to establish subdivisions, provide a pattern for subdivision practice, or provide reference structure for other terms. This content is expanded beyond "the big red books" (the paper issue of LCSH) with inclusion of validation strings. The Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies service allows users to conduct a "keyword in heading" search for subject headings, as well as individual and bulk downloads of records.

Because the keyword in heading search option available through the Library of Congress Authorities and Vocabularies service does not return reference terms ("see," "see also," or "used for" terms), searching the LC Authorities and Vocabularies service for authorized subject headings may prove difficult for some users. Consequently, users trying to identify authorized subject headings may prefer to search the Library of Congress Authorities database. This database returns reference terms allowing users to quickly identify correct subject headings (e.g., a search on "Sickness" will return a "see" result referring users to the authorized heading "Diseases"). LCSH in this database includes all Library of Congress Subject Headings and Children's (AC) headings. Authority records are not available for subject subdivisions individually, LCSH subject headings combined with free-floating subdivisions, and subject access points established in a variety of thesauri but not in LCSH. Authority records in this database may only be saved, printed, or emailed one at a time.

Finally, the Classification Web database (subscription required; available at many academic libraries) also provides access to LCSH.

Determining a Book's Literary Form and Reading Level

1. How do I tell whether a book is poetry or prose? Does the Library of Congress indicate this in its catalog records?

The Library of Congress does not explicitly indicate whether a book is poetry or prose in its catalog records. You can review the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) assigned to a book to see whether a word such as poetry or biography, which might help indicate the form of the book, is given. Bear in mind that a subject term such as poetry is typically used to designate a prose work about poetry (e.g., a collection of essays), and not a work of poetry itself. The Library of Congress Classification cannot be used to determine whether a book is poetry or prose; however, a book's Dewey Decimal number, which is often available through Library catalog records, will sometimes indicate the form of a book's content. Once you learn a book's Dewey number, you can review the heading describing the topic that the number represents through the Dewey Decimal Classification Summaries. For instance, the following numbers for American and British literature help to indicate whether a work is poetry or prose:

811 American poetry in English
813 American fiction in English
821 English poetry
823 English fiction

Other options for determining whether a book is prose or poetry include checking the physical book, especially its back and front covers, spine, copyright page, and dust jacket, to see if the publisher has included a designation of poetry or a nonfiction genre; consulting book reviews, articles, and other publications about the work to see if they mention its format; checking the book publisher's or author's Web site to see if it indicates the form of the book; contacting the book's publisher (contact information is usually available through the Web); and contacting the book's author (through his or her publisher, an official Web site or social networking page, or other means).

The Library receives many questions about whether a work is poetry or prose from Texas students and teachers participating in University Interscholastic League (UIL) oral interpretation competitions. An excellent UIL document that assists with this process is "Defining and Distinguishing Poetry, Prose, and Drama." The UIL's FAQ page and other areas of its Web site discuss appropriate and inappropriate forms of documentation for contests and who to contact for an official ruling in uncertain cases.

If you'd like to receive the Library's help determining whether a book is poetry or prose, please use the Digital Reference Section's Ask a Librarian Web form.

2. How do I tell whether a book is fiction or nonfiction? Does the Library of Congress indicate this in its catalog records?

Library of Congress catalog records do not always provide a definitive answer to whether a work is fiction or nonfiction. Ascertaining whether a book is fiction or nonfiction through the Library's online catalog is usually performed through review of the Library of Congress classification number assigned to a book. To find the classification number assigned to a book, you can search the online catalog to find a record for the book in question, then click on the Full Record tab and review the field labeled LC Classification. (You should also review any Library of Congress Subject Headings listed on this page, as they may provide a designation of fiction.) Literature is classified under the letter P, but there is wide variation on whether something in Class P is fiction or nonfiction. If you find that the Library of Congress classification number starts with PZ, that is definitely fiction. PR and PS (English and American Literature, respectively) can be used for works of fiction, as well as works of nonfiction such as literary criticism, essays, biographies of authors, etc. You would need to look at the full classification number and at a very detailed classification schedule for help in determining if it is fiction or nonfiction, and this may not be conclusive. These extended classification schedules are not currently available online for free, though they can generally be found at college and university libraries. The Library often is asked about works with a classification of PN: sometimes these are collections of wit and humor. In this case, the Library of Congress classification will not designate whether the work is fiction or nonfiction, and it may be necessary to use other means to make a determination.

To see whether other Library classes identify a work as fiction or nonfiction, you can check class numbers against the descriptions of them given in the Library of Congress Classification Outline. For instance, for a book classified as HV, one can use the classification outline to learn that this is a designation for social sciences and the work is, therefore, nonfiction.

A book's Dewey Decimal number, which is often available through Library catalog records, will sometimes indicate whether a book is fiction or nonfiction. Once you learn a book's Dewey number, you can review the heading describing the topic that the number represents through the Dewey Decimal Classification Summaries. For instance, the following numbers for literature indicate the work is fiction:

813 American fiction in English
823 English fiction
833 German fiction
843 French fiction

Other options for determining whether a book is fiction or nonfiction include checking the physical book, especially its back and front covers, spine, copyright page, and dust jacket, to see if the publisher has included a designation of fiction or nonfiction; reviewing bestseller lists, book reviews, articles, and other publications about the work which may mention its genre; checking the book publisher's or author's Web site to see if it indicates the genre of the book; contacting the book's publisher (contact information is usually available through the Web); and contacting the book's author (through his or her publisher, an official Web site or social networking page, or other means).

The Library receives many questions about whether a work is fiction or nonfiction from Texas students and teachers participating in University Interscholastic League (UIL) speech and debate competitions. Participants should explore the UIL's Web site, including "Prose and Poetry Frequently Asked Questions," "Helpful Checklist for UIL Prose Documentation Requirements," "Helpful Checklist for UIL Poetry Documentation Requirements," and the New Coach FAQ to learn about appropriate and inappropriate forms of documentation for contests and who to contact for an official ruling in uncertain cases.

3. How do I determine a book's reading level? Does the Library of Congress assign reading levels to books?

There is no central body that assigns books a reading level. Often, a book's reading level is determined by book publishers or by those with certain expertise such as reading/education specialists, young adult librarians, and school media specialists. In addition, there are many different standardized methods, often known as leveling systems, for determining the reading level of a book. For an introduction to leveling systems, see Linda Cornwell’s “Nuts and Bolts of Book Leveling.” An overview of several of the most popular leveling systems is Ruth Manna’s “Leveled Reading Systems: Unraveling the Mystery.” Additional articles on leveled reading are available on the Scholastic Web site.

The Library of Congress does not endorse or apply a leveling system or any other method of assigning a reading level to books in its collections*; it defers to those who are experts in this area. Occasionally, the Library’s online catalog records will include a link to a publisher's description of a book or a book review that mentions a book's reading level. To determine if a catalog record includes a link to a book review or publisher's description, you can open the record and look for the field labeled "Links." This field will include hyperlinks to all electronic resources, including reviews and publisher's description, available in the record.

A number of other Web sites provide access to databases or book lists that allow users to identify the reading level for a book. Users will need to review each Web site in order to ascertain which leveling system or method is used to determine books’ reading levels. One resource that allows users to search a database of more 50,000 books for details on how the book rates according to different leveling systems is Scholastic’s Teacher Book Wizard.

*The only exception is the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the Library of Congress, whose online catalog records sometimes include suggested grade levels taken from book reviews.

The Library on the Web

1. What are some of the milestones in the Library's use of the Internet to share its resources with the public?

The Library of Congress has explored and taken advantage of the Internet's potential for sharing the Library's content with remote users since the early 1990s. The following timeline highlights significant moments in the history and development of the Library's presence online.

(Note: All quotations in the timeline are from the article "The National Digital Library and the Library's Electronic Resources" in the Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress)

1990

  • LC establishes its first Internet connection through UNIX-based servers housed in its IT department in September
  • Remote Online LOCIS User Pilot (ROLLUP), an experimental project with fourteen state library agencies and the D.C. Public Library, provides remote access to library databases
  • The American Memory pilot project offers selected primary source materials from its Americana collections to schools and libraries through CD-ROMs. The five-year project (1990-94) culminates in the establishment of the National Digital Library Program and the American Memory Web site.

1991

  • LC's begins providing UNIX-based email access to staff, primarily through dial-up, in January
  • LC DIRECT, an outgrowth of ROLLUP and a fee-based service to 33 state library agencies, provides remote online access to the Library's bibliographic databases beginning in January

1992

  • LC's first online exhibition, Revelations from the Russian Archives, available on the Internet through FTP
  • Following the success of LC's first online exhibition, additional information related to the Library's reading rooms, hours, special collections, services to the blind, and copyright registration procedures added online
  • The Library of Congress News Service, a source for information about the Library's programs, exhibits, activities, hours of operation, and job openings, launches in October. Enables computer users to dial in to the service over telephone lines by using modems connected to their personal computers.

1993

  • LOCIS, the Library of Congress Information System (available through TELNET), debuts online to the public in April. Provides access to "the Library's catalog, the status of legislation since 1993, abstracts of laws from several Hispanic-speaking countries, braille and audio materials and copyright registration records since 1978."
  • LC MARVEL (Machine-Assisted Realization of the Virtual Electronic Library), a Gopher-based system, debuts in June at the American Library Association conference and becomes available to the public in July. A bulletin-board service, it provides "a wide variety of information about the Library, including information about events and jobs as well as images and text from the Library's exhibitions and links to a vast collection of Internet resources worldwide."
  • The Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room opens the Library's first public work station with Internet access in June 1993
  • LC establishes in-house support for electronic discussion lists (LISTSERVs) in July. The Library's only prior LISTSERV (USMARC-L), established in June 1991, was hosted through the University of Maine.

1994

  • LC Web site debuts at the annual ALA conference in Miami, Florida, June 22-30
  • National Digital Library Program launches on October 13, with American Memory made available online as its flagship project
  • LC's National Reference Service (NRS) begins a pilot project to respond to reference queries received over the Internet at the email address lcref@loc.gov (no longer active) on November 7. Many questions are referred by NRS to email accounts maintained by other areas of the Library.

1995

  • THOMAS legislative Web site debuts on January 5
  • Z39.50 Gateway installed on the Library's Web site, making it possible for Internet users to search the Library's online bibliographic database (MUMS) and other catalogs
  • The Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room creates the first LC reading room home page on the World Wide Web
  • During the summer, the National Reference Services establishes lcinfo@loc.gov (no longer active), a centralized Internet email address for online inquiries to LC
  • Federal Research Division country studies first become available online

1996

  • LC's Learning Page debuts on March 6
  • The Ameritech Foundation announces it will make a $2 million gift to establish the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. This three-year competition (1996-1999) open to public, research, and academic libraries, as well as museums, historical societies, and archival institutions (with the exception of federal institutions), produced 23 digital collections in American Memory.
  • LC home page redesigned on July 6
  • GLIN (Global Legal Information Network) debuts on the Library's Web site in July
  • Library offers its first online chat conference via an AOL public chat room on October 17: "1492: An Ongoing Voyage." Issues were explored and questions and comments from participating AOL-subscribers were addressed by the Library's Senior Specialist in Hispanic Bibliography, Dr. John Hebert, the curator of the 1992-1993 exhibition. Staff from the National Digital Library Program facilitated the program.
  • LC's online catalog becomes available through the Web
  • Library offers free Internet access on ten workstations in five LC reading rooms and the Computer Catalog Center
  • The National Reference Service averages 850 email questions per month

1997

1998

1999

  • LC Web home page redesign debuts on January 25 (see before and after)
  • The National Reference Service is incorporated into the Humanities and Social Science Division and renamed the Reference Referral Service
  • Places in the News debuts in April
  • The Meeting of Frontiers Web site, the first component of the International Horizons project (later renamed Global Gateway), debuts. It is the first bilingual project on the Library's Web site.
  • Web-Braille, which allows braille readers to read more than 2,700 books files in digital braille, debuts in August
  • Updates to LOCIS catalog files cease August 12, 1999
  • LC's new ILS online public catalog becomes available on the Web on August 31

2000

2001

  • Library hosts live public Web conference on April 3, with mystery author Sara Paretsky, using the LSSI Virtual Reference Desk software's chatroom feature
  • Portals to the World debuts
  • Videoconference programs and workshops to assist participants in navigating, searching, and accessing materials in the Library's online collections, begin in September
  • LC launches live chat pilot using 24/7 Reference software on October 11
  • Live chat pilot ends on November 12
  • The Digital Reference Section is created in November to provide reference services related to the Library's online collections

2002

2003

  • LC MARVEL migrated to HTML pages and retired
  • LC acquires its first major born digital collection, the September 11 Digital Archive, on September 10

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

  • LC launches "Songs of America" presentation on February 5
  • LC implements a new global navigation scheme on loc.gov pages, as well as new Discover, Services, and Education landing pages on February 24
  • LC participates in its first Google Hangout, "Classroom Practice and Chronicling America," on March 27. The Hangout, featuring staff from the Library's Educational Outreach Team, is hosted by the Teaching With Primary Sources Program at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

2. How much data is represented by the Library's physical and digital collections?

In an April 15, 2010, press release, the Library's Public Affairs Office notes that "the Library holds more than 167 terabytes of web-based information, including legal blogs, websites of candidates for national office and websites of Members of Congress." In addition, Matt Raymond, Director of Communications at the Library of Congress, provides an overview of how much data the Library's physical and digital content represents on the Library of Congress blog. Mr. Raymond notes that, as of February 11, 2009, "the approximate amount of [the Library's] collections that are digitized and freely and publicly available on the Internet is about 74 terabytes. We can also say that we have about 15.3 million digital items online."

Please note that where Mr. Raymond mentions "15.3 million digital items online," he means, more specifically, files. A single Library item can consist of multiple files, and the ratio between the numbers of catalog records, physical objects, and digital files that represent a single Library item can vary considerably, depending largely on the type of physical objects and how they have been cataloged, scanned, and presented on the Library's Web site. Here are some examples to illustrate this point:

  • A book in American Memory has one item record. (There might also be one record for a multi-volume set, or one record for each article in a bound journal.) This "item" might be represented by one SGML file, and perhaps converted to HTML. It might also be represented by three progressively higher-definition image files for each page; have images only for its illustrated pages; or have only images and no transcriptions or a transcription and no images.
  • The architectural study of the White House in Washington, D.C. has one record representing 757 physical objects (including photographs, architectural drawings, and documents), which, in turn are represented by 3028 files (GIF, JPEG, TIFF and higher resolution TIFF files).
  • The kinetescope of a sneeze, a motion picture from Thomas Edison's studio, has one record representing one physical object. This object, in turn, is represented by two digital files (MPG and QuickTime).
  • Items in American Memory collections from "partner institutions" may be represented on the Library of Congress servers as only an item record with thumbnail images and a link to a server elsewhere. This is the case, for example, with the sheet music from the collection Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920, for which the image files reside on a server at Duke University.

A July 11, 2011, Library of Congress Blog post includes additional thoughts on attempts to measure the size of the Library's collections in terabytes.

A March 23, 2012, post on the Library's digital preservation blog The Signal titled "How many Libraries of Congress does it take?" cites a number of instances in which the size of the Library's collections are compared to other projects. An August 6, 2012, post, "The Immeasurable Library of Congress," discusses the importance of the materiality of objects in the Library's collection, and why the size of the Library's collections is less important than the work of stewardship.

3. What type of Integrated Library System (ILS) does the Library of Congress use?

In November 2010, the Library upgraded its ILS to Voyager version 7.2.0 from Ex Libris. Its previous ILS upgrade occurred in May 2008, when it upgraded to Voyager version 6.5.2.

A contract for the Library's first ILS was awarded on May 15, 1998, to Endeavor Information Systems, Inc., for its Voyager integrated library system. On October 1, 1999, the Library successfully completed initial implementation of all modules of the ILS, including cataloging, circulation, acquisitions, serials check-in modules, and the online public access catalog.

For further information about the Library's Integrated Library System, see the Library's ILS Program Office home page, background page, and FAQ.

4.How do I cite materials on the Library of Congress Web site? What resources are available for learning how to cite other electronic and print materials?

The Library of Congress’s Teacher Resources pages offer guidance on how to cite primary sources on the Library of Congress Web site. The examples are based on style guidelines commonly used in history (The Chicago Manual of Style) and language arts (MLA style) disciplines.

Examples of how to cite materials from the Library's American Memory collection A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation are also available online.

More extensive guidelines for citing print and electronic resources are available through Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online Web site, which focuses on MLA, APA, Chicago, and CSE styles (for Turabian style guidelines, click here). In addition, consult the current official edition of the documentation style being used for authoritative information on how to cite materials according to that style.

Many electronic databases available through libraries now provide suggestions for citing materials in them according to several documentation styles. Consequently, be sure to check entries in electronic databases to see if they include suggested citations (typically given at the botton of an entry). Many databases also allow users to export citations into reference management software such as RefWorks, EndNote, and Zotero that facilitate the creation and organization of bibliographic citations.

While the functionality of reference management software varies, most allow users to create and extract citations not only from database entries, but also from a host of primary and secondary sources, including books, articles, Web pages, audio recordings, video recordings, and legal documents.

Copyright Records

1. How can I search copyright registration and renewal records online?

There are several databases you can search to locate copyright registration and renewal records online. The only official database as this time is the U.S. Copyright Office Catalog; the others listed below represent the work of individuals and organizations not affiliated with the U.S Copyright Office at the Library of Congress.

U.S. Copyright Office Catalog (original records and renewals, 1978-present)

The U.S. Copyright Office's Copyright Office Catalog makes available approximately 20 million records for works registered and documents recorded with the Copyright Office since 1978. Please note that it takes several months for a work submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office to be fully processed and added to this catalog.

Catalogs of Copyright Entries

This ongoing project presents records of copyright ownership from the United States Copyright Office for the period from July 1891 through December 1977. The Catalogs of Copyright Entries (CCEs) are published compilations of copyright registration records cataloged in periods ranging from semiweekly to semiannually. There are 660 CCE volumes arranged by year, cataloging period, and class of material. The volumes are being digitized in reverse chronological order starting with 1977.

The Catalogs of Copyright Entries contain records of registrations only. They do not contain any references to transfer, assignment, or other documents recorded in the Copyright Office pertinent to copyrights. These entries alone may not reflect the complete Copyright Office record pertaining to a particular work. Contact the U.S. Copyright Office for information about any additional records that may exist.

The Online Book Page's Catalog of Copyright Entries Page (renewal records, 1950 - 1977)

This Web page from the University of Pennsylvania's Online Books Page makes available scanned images for copyright renewal records for books and other texts originally registered for copyright between 1922-1950. In addition, this page links to additional online resources for finding copyright registrations and renewal records for written texts.

Selected Copyright Renewal Registrations, 1950-1977

Transcriptions of copyright renewal registrations from 1950-1977 provided by Project Gutenberg. These renewal registrations cover books and other texts originally registered for copyright between 1922-1950.

Stanford University's Copyright Renewal Database (renewal records, 1950-1992)

This database "makes searchable the copyright renewal records received by the US Copyright Office between 1950 and 1992 for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963. Note that the database includes ONLY US Class A (book) renewals."

These databases will not always provide definitive information on the copyright status of a work. Further information on researching the copyright status of works can be found through the U.S. Copyright Office, Circular 22, "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work" (PDF, 232 KB), and the Online Books Page feature, "How Can I Tell Whether a Copyright Was Renewed?"

Organizing and Automating My Library

1. How do I organize my personal library or church library?

The American Library Association's Fact Sheet Number 16, Setting Up a Library: A Resource Guide, compiles print and online resources for individuals interested in organizing their libraries. See especially the sections on home and family libraries and church and synagogue libraries.

Additional tools for cataloging small and personal libraries can be found through the Open Directory Project.

2. How do I automate my library?

For an overview of library automation issues, see the American Library Association's Fact Sheet Number 21, "Automating Libraries and Virtual Reference: A Selected Annotated Bibliography," which "offers a selection of articles, treatises, and web resources that will provide an introduction to the issues to consider when moving from the card catalog to the computerized catalog, or upgrading from one present integrated library system (ILS) to another, or considering implementing virtual reference services."

Library Technology Guides, prepared by Marshall Breeding (Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University), includes a database of library automation companies you can use to find companies that develop and market library automation systems.

Every April, Library Journal publishes a review of the current library automation marketplace. For the 2009 review, see the article "Investing in The Future: Automation Marketplace 2009."

The Library and the Book of Secrets

1. Is the Book of Secrets from National Treasure: Book of Secrets a real book?

The Book of Secrets is not an authentic historical book. The Book of Secrets is a fictitious prop created for the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. This movie prop was loaned to the Library of Congress by Disney and displayed from July 1 to September 27, 2008, in the South Orientation Gallery on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building.

There are, of course, real secrets that presidents are made aware of during their terms of office, mostly relating to military matters and national security. The National Archives and Records Administration keeps extensive records of investigations such as that regarding the Kennedy assassination (allegedly contained in the movie's Book of Secrets). Many of these records are "classified" and not open to the public, at least for a certain period of time, but records of that sort would involve thousands of pages of documents and be managed by archivists with security clearances, not neatly contained in a single volume that could be passed from one president to another. One sort of secret that is passed from one president to another, however, is described in a USA Today article, "Military Aides Still Carry the President's Nuclear 'Football.'"

Other Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I find other lists of frequently asked questions on the Library’s Web site?

Frequently asked questions specific to a Library division, collection, or online content area are available throughout the Library’s Web site. Lists of frequently asked questions elsewhere on the Library’s Web site follow below.

2. Can the Library tell me how much my book, artwork, or other item is worth?

The Library of Congress neither authenticates nor appraises books, manuscripts, works of art, or individual objects. Such services are provided by specialized businesses such as auction houses, professional appraisers, and antiquarian booksellers. Many of these businesses are listed in the yellow pages of metropolitan area telephone directories. In addition, many professional associations of booksellers and appraisers maintain online membership directories through which you can find a specialist to authenticate or appraise your item. See, for example:

Your local library is likely to hold general guides to collecting books and other items, as well as specialized price guides and compilations of auction records that will help you determine the range of prices at which specific items have recently sold. Standard price guides for books include American Book Prices Current (About) and Bookman's Price Index (About). A general idea of a book's current market price can also be found by checking listings of used and rare book sellers. Sites such as BookFinder and AddALL Used and Out of Print Search allow users to search across the combined listings of many online booksellers and to review asking prices for books.

A good starting point for learning more about the history and value of your book is Your Old Books. Authored by Peter Van Wingen and revised by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section Publications Committee of the Association of College and Research Libraries, Your Old Books answers frequently asked questions about book collecting.

Suggested resources and organizations for locating appraisers of prints and photographs, newspapers and periodicals, and artwork are also available online through several Library divisions. In addition, the Smithsonian Institution maintains more extensive online guides to determining the value of antiques, artwork, and other collectibles.

3. How can I obtain copies of books and other materials from the Library? Does the Library allow users to borrow books?

There are two options for requesting books and other materials from the Library of Congress.

  • You may request materials on interlibrary loan (ILL) through your local library. The Library of Congress does not loan materials to individuals, but does send out materials to other libraries on a case-by-case basis. These requests must be initiated through your local library. Generally, your local library will first attempt to request materials from another library before contacting the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress does not charge for this service; in some cases, local libraries charge a nominal fee for interlibrary loan. Additional information about the Library's interlibrary loan service is available online at http://www.loc.gov/rr/loan/.
  • You may purchase reproductions of some materials from our Duplication Services office. This is a fee-based service. The Duplication Services Web site includes ordering and price information. Contact the Duplication Services office directly with specific questions:

Library of Congress Duplication Services
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, D.C. 20540-4570
Telephone: (202) 707-5640
Fax: (202) 707-1771
E-mail: duplicationservices@loc.gov

    Please note that all orders must be accompanied by the reproduction number or call number for each individual item     (these numbers can be found in online catalog records and are often included in publications). If numbers are not     found via these means, they must be identified through your research or by requesting research services in the     reading room that has custody of the material. Digital Imaging Services must include the digital ID.

4. Why isn't my book held by the Library of Congress?

The Library of Congress acquires books and other materials for its collections through donation, exchange, and several other methods. The core of its collections are comprised of materials deposited with the U.S. Copyright Office. If you have not already done so, please contact the publisher of your book and encourage it to submit two copies of the book to our Copyright Office for copyright registration. Your book, as part of the registration process, will be considered for addition to the Library's permanent collections. It takes a number of months for works submitted to the Copyright Office to be processed, cataloged, and listed in our online catalog, so even if your work is selected for the Library's permanent collections, it will not immediately be available to the public.

Not all works received by the U.S. Copyright Office are selected for retention in the Library's permanent collections, however. Works not selected will not appear in the Library's online catalog. The selection of materials for the Library's permanent collections is governed by its Collections Policy Statements, which you can consult for guidance on the types of materials (including self-published or vanity press books) the Library may not be likely to acquire.

If your book is not added to the Library's permanent collections, a record for it will still appear, once processing is completed, in the online Copyright Office Catalog, which includes records for works registered with the Copyright Office since 1978.

5. Does the Library of Congress hold U.S. doctoral dissertations, and are they available online?

The Library of Congress holds an extensive collection of U.S. doctoral dissertations. Most of these dissertations do not have records in the Library of Congress's Online Catalog, however, and none are freely available online through the Library. Resources through which researchers can access the Library's collection of dissertations are discussed below.

The majority of the Library's dissertations are available on microfilm and have been acquired through a subscription with University Microfilms International (UMI), now a division of ProQuest.  The Library's subscription was established in 1938, when UMI began microfilming dissertations for archival purposes. Although initially not all universities participated in this archival project by sending their dissertations to UMI for microfilming (the University of Chicago did not participate until 2009), today all major universities submit electronic dissertations to UMI; as a result, the program is very comprehensive.

Of the roughly 1,000,000 dissertation titles in the Library's collections, most are microfilm or microfiche and may be requested in person in the Library of Congress's Microform Reading Room. Some early dissertations and those from the University of Chicago through June 2009 are found in paper copies throughout the Library's general collections and can be searched by title or author in the Library's online catalog.

The Library of Congress also subscribes to the ProQuest database Dissertations & Theses - Full Text (PQDT). This database provides citations for 2.7 million dissertations from 1861 to the present and abstracts for most dissertations since 1980.  Full-text access to most dissertations since 1997 is available, along with full-text access to many pre-1997 dissertations. These dissertations can be downloaded in PDF format; other dissertations are available for purchase through the database.  Due to the limitations of the Library's license to use this product, only researchers in one of the reading rooms at the Library of Congress are able to gain access to PQDT (direct link for on-campus researchers). The database is also available through many larger academic libraries.

Several printed reference sources, also available at many academic libraries, offer cumulative coverage comparable to Dissertations & Theses - Full Text.  These are Dissertation Abstracts International, Masters Abstracts International, and American Doctoral Dissertations.

For researchers who lack library access to PQDT, ProQuest offers an individualized topical search service called DATRIX.  If your library does not subscribe to PQDT, you may be able to request a search for dissertations on your research topic through this service. Researchers who would like to purchase a known dissertation listed in PQDT but don't have access to the database can search for the dissertation by title, author, and order number, and then purchase a copy, through Dissertation Express.

An increasing number of free databases allow users to search for citations to and sometimes the full text of U.S. and international dissertations. For example:

The University of Rochester's River Campus Libraries list additional online sources for international dissertations.

Many Library researchers are interested in accessing Masters theses. While many Masters theses are indexed by ProQuest, a comprehensive listing is not available through PQDT.  In addition, as a general rule the Library of Congress does not collect Masters theses. With few exceptions, the best source for obtaining Masters theses is the library of the university granting the degree.

Finally, Library of Congress researchers interested in Chinese dissertations can search the Dissertations of China database (direct link for on-campus researchers), which contains over 400,000 full-text dissertations and 200,000 abstracts and other descriptive information on Masters and doctoral dissertations from key Chinese universities and research institutions since 1986.

 

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  July 3, 2014
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