a time, back when books were first being printed, they were organized
in very simple ways--by their title, the author's name, and sometimes
even by color or size! But as more and more books were produced, a way
of organizing them more efficiently became necessary.
early library days, books were numbered chronologically according to
when they were added to the collection, and were shelved according to
that number. But there was still no rhyme or reason to this method.
If you wanted a book about history, for example, you might have to look
through all the books until you found the one you wanted!
of Congress was established in 1800 in Washington D. C. President John
Adams authorized $5000 for the purchase of "such books as may be
necessary for the use of Congress." The original collection consisted
of 740 volumes and three maps. Thomas Jefferson created the post of
Librarian of Congress in 1802 and personally recommended many of the
new titles the library acquired.
1814, the British attacked the capitol and the then 3,000-volume library
was destroyed. Jefferson sold his private collection to Congress for
the sum of $23,940 (equal to more than $1 million dollars in today's
currency). The new library collection nearly doubled the size of the
original library to 6,487 volumes.
the collection, came Jefferson's classification system. It relied on
shelving books based on their subject matter. In that way, all the history
books were in one place, all the science books were together, and so
on. Jefferson's method was eventually adopted by the Library
of Congress and was used for many years.
mid 1800's, two other shelving systems were being developed. Melvil
Dewey introduced the Dewey Decimal System which was published in 1876.
It used numbers to classify materials according to their subject matter.
Cutter was busy working on his system, which added a decimal and
letter (usually the first initial of the author's last name or the first
letter of the title) to the numbers. This is the system Clark State
Community College Library and most other academic libraries use.
the end of the 19th century, a group of librarians decided to discontinue
using Thomas Jefferson's system and formally created the Library of
Congress Classification System, which closely followed the Cutter method.
This system is still being updated today, as new formats have been added
to libraries (not just books anymore: there are video and audio cassette
tapes, music CD's, CD-ROM's, maps, microform, periodicals, music scores,
and many others.)
information about the history of the Library of Congress, please visit: