The classification system of the Library of Congress (LCC)

Library of Congress legal classification system

A call number is an identifier placed on the spine of each book that helps the library arrange books on the shelf by subject. Knowing a book’s call number helps you find the book in the library stacks once you know the general location.

Jurisdiction as a Point of Departure

The classification system of the Library of Congress, according to Conrad J. P. van Laer in his book The Applicability of Comparative Concepts (1997), is the most detailed classification of legal systems. It reflects a well-balanced middle ground, in oppinion of the author: it does not have the universalist pretention of the Universal Decimal Classification, nor does it classify by jurisdiction.

The history of the classification system of the Library of Congress shows, he adds, that the “basic assumption in constructing the legal classification system was individualization: a specific classification was to be developed for each jurisdiction. No concepts or terms should be imposed on a national legal system other than those that are operative in that system. This is the reason why, initially, the national legal system was elected as the principle of division. The special concepts and conceptual interrelations of each jurisdiction were to be incorporated in a systematic and hierarchical order. However, the hierarchy of the first Library of Congress legal classification, that of the law of the United States, is not absolute, since it does not have a hierarchical pyramid of legal concepts or legal rules with “law” as its ultimate superordinate concept. The uppermost level of classification consists of coordinate legal areas. In addition, the classification for the United States lacks hierarchical subdivisions where the legal literature deviates from a strict hierarchy as a result of combining a number of subjects.”