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Classics: A Resource Guide

Search Strategies

When searching the Library of Congress Online Catalog for classics materials, there are several strategies that will help you locate relevant materials including the use of the LC classification schedule and subject headings in your searches.

Library of Congress Classification (LCC)

The Library of Congress organizes knowledge into different combinations of letters and numbers which makes up the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) schedule. These can be found online at the Library of Congress Classification Outline website.

Each class (represented by a letter in the alphabet) covers a large topical area. Two-letter combinations divide the larger topic into smaller sub-topics, further represented by adding more numbers and letters. For instance, Class P represents language and literature. P breaks down further into subclasses PA, PB, PC, and so on all the way until PZ. The examples below demonstrate this breakdown up to subclass PH.

  • P Philology. Linguistics
  • PA Greek language and literature. Latin language and literature
  • PB Modern languages.Celtic languages
  • PC Romance languages
  • PD Germanic languages.Scandinavian languages
  • PE English language Subclass PF West Germanic languages
  • PG Slavic languages. Baltic languages.Albanian language
  • PH Uralic languages.Basque language

Browse by Library of Congress Classification

To search for materials according to classification number, go to the Library of Congress Online Catalog, use the “Browse” search tool and select the "CALL NUMBER (LC Class No.)" option, then enter the the classification numbers. For instance, a browse of PA3057 will show all materials in the online catalog with this classification number—they will all be on the topic of the history of Greek literature.

Looking further at the subclass PA, you will see how useful the search by CALL NUMBER can be. Each subclass below will execute a browse in the Library's online catalog.


PA3818-4505 Individual authors:

PA6202-6971 Individual authors

The LC classification portion of an item's call number can provide a fair amount of information about the item itself which can be useful for research. For example, take this call number from the book History of Greek Literature by Albrecht Dihle which is PA3057 .D513 1994b FT MEADE. Only the first part before the period is of concern, the PA3057. This beginning segment of the call number PA3057 falls between PA3051-3285 which as we can see from the list, is the history of Greek literature. Since any item beginning with a call number between PA3051-PA3285 will be on the topic of the history of Greek literature, we can deduce that a book with a call number starting with the classification number PA3057 will be on this subject.

To use another example, let's say that we wanted to search by call number for books on or about the Roman poet Ovid. Ovid has been designated the call numbers PA6519-6553. To browse through every book with a call number in this range, search the online catalog under LC Class No. (described above) for the call number PA6519. Once you've begun searching, click on the next arrow to browse the next page of items. Keep going to the next page until you reach PA6553. Once you pass PA6553 and you see materials starting with PA6554, you are no longer searching for material about Ovid.

Browse by Library of Congress Subject Heading

Authorized subject headings are an excellent way to locate relevant materials in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Given the large number of pertinent subject headings for researching the classics, the list here comprises a very small sampling of all subject headings. Click on each linked heading below to browse the online catalog for collection materials on that subject and to see related broader or narrower headings. To search for additional subject headings, we recommend using the “Browse” search function using the "SUBJECTS beginning with" option.

Some relevant subject headings browses as listed below:

To maximize you search results, try removing the second identifier appended at the end of the above subject headings. For example, removing "history and criticism" from the subject heading "Latin Language--History and criticism" will yield more results, but many will not apply to your research. Sift through the results to determine which ones are applicable to your inquiry. The rule is that fewer identifiers attached to a subject heading will bring many hits while more identifiers will result in less.