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Classification of Material in the Library: Cutter Numbers

Goals:This class will teach the basics of the Library of Congress (LC) classification system and how things are arranged using this system within HKUST Library.

Cutter Numbers

How are these alphanumeric sequences made?

Charles Cutter (1837-1903) was a librarian in Massachusetts in the USA and his Rules for a Dictionary Catalog and his Expansive Classification laid the basis for how English language libraries are organized.

One of his inventions was the Cutter Table. It allows one to arrange names or titles in an alphanumeric sequence forever.

It's not hard to arrange things alphabetically with a finite set. But if you are constantly receiving new material, and don't want to keep changing the assigned numbers, you need something flexible.

Cutter Table from the US Library of Congress.

For fun, you can visit Kyle Banerjee's Cataloging Calculator, which can make Cutters for you.

Librarians follow the basic table and then check against what their library owns to make to make sure the numbers are not duplicate.

Why are some Cutters longer than others?

If a certain areas or disciplines are "crowded", one must cutter further to be able to inter-file correctly.

Example C

Classification number  Main entry  - Author's name or book title (if there is no author)
E184.C5 C45 1991  Chen, Huaidong
E184.C5 C466 2002  Chen, Shehong
E184.C5 C468 1995 Chen, Yanni. (Chen Yanni : Niuyue yi shi)
E184.C5 C4685 1997 Chen, Yanni. (Zao yu Meiguo, Chen Yanni cai fang.)
E184.C5 C473 1998 Chin, Frank


Example D

TK Electrical Engineering
5103.2 Telecommunications (TK5101-> TK6720)
.I54 Title of Journal (International journal of wireless information networks)

Why does this call number lack a publication year?

This is a periodical. It has no year of publication, because it has been published four times a year since 1994 and may continue to be published forever.

When you see a classification number in the Library Catalog that has no publication year, it is most likely a periodical.

HSS Librarian

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