May 28, 2022

DDC No More: Northwestern University Library Begins Using Library of Congress Classification For New Books, Journals

From the Northwestern University Library:

Northwestern University Library is now using Library of Congress (LC) call number for new books and journals added to the library’s collection. Newly acquired books and journals with LC call numbers will be located on the 4th floor of the South tower (4South). Because the Dewey and LC numbering systems cannot be interfiled, we have had to create space in the stacks for the new materials. We have made room in 4South by shifting lower use items to the Oak Grove Library Center [off-site storage] and consolidating the remaining books. Don’t worry, nothing is being discarded! Everything, regardless of location, is still searchable online, and browsing by call number is available via the library catalog. You can then have the items you want delivered directly to your office.

Why aren’t we reclassifying the entire collection so it shelves together? With over 6 million items in multiple locations, we do not have the resources to reclassify and remark everything in our collection. There is no grant-funding available to cover the costs of collection reclassification on this scale.

Only newly acquired materials will receive LC call numbers, and occasional relabeling of older books as needed.

As some of you are aware, we already have several separate sections of books classified in the LC system, for example in the Transportation Library and the Music Library, as well as books in specialized systems like those for government documents.

Note: A very smart move to include a couple of sentences about items not being discarded but rather moved to NU’s off-site storage facility. As we’ve seen moving an item/item from the collection to an off-site location can cause confusion and in the age of social media, panic.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.