Library of Congress Classification OR How Many Catalogers Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

LCStuff happens, and then accumulates. Of course it’s important stuff that you’ll want to use again, else you wouldn’t keep it, right? As long as it’s just a little stuff you can let it lie around randomly and just remember where everything is. Of course, your mother or significant other or even a helpful friend may foul everything up by putting your stuff where it belongs, but otherwise the system works well enough.

But eventually there is just too much stuff to remember. Since you still can‘t buy a few extra gigabytes of gray matter, your brain eventually runs out of memory.  Then you have to listen to what everybody says and put your stuff where it belongs.

And how do you know where your stuff belongs? That’s classification.

fuzzimo-vinylrecordspictures-01There are many ways of classifying stuff. Say you have a music collection that’s getting out of hand. You may want to arrange it by artist, and keep Dusty Springfield next to Bruce Springsteen. Or you may want to arrange it by type of music, putting jazz in one corner of the room, country in another, garage bands in the garage, and classical music up in the attic. Either system is fine, as long as it serves the purpose of enabling you to find stuff effectively.

The University of Detroit Mercy Libraries use a classification system devised by the Library of Congress (LC).  It arranges stuff by subject, and uses a combination of letters and numbers to bring materials together in a logical sequence.

Each piece of stuff is given a Call Number, which is basically like a street address where the material lives on the shelf. All the stuff on a given subject lives on the same street, or else on the next block over. (In real life, this would be like having all movie Tarzans living at Hollywood & Vine.)

Here is a call number, based on the LC Classification System, for William James’ book, The Varieties of Religious Experience:

BR 110 .J3 1929

The first thing to remember is that the letters “BR” have no intrinsic or mnemonic meaning, but simply indicate an area within the system. Here’s a quick summary of what comes under the letter “B” in the LC system:

B-BD= Philosophy     BF= Psychology                     BH= Aesthetics          BJ= Ethics

BL-BP Religions (general, non-Christian)      BR-BX Christianity

Within each area, the subjects generally move from general to specific. BR indicates material relating to general aspects of Christianity. The second element, 110, has been assigned for the more specific subject, “Psychology of religious experience, conversion, etc.” Again, the number “110” has no special significance; it only serves to arrange material in the desired order.

The .J3, as you probably guessed, relates to the author’s last name “James”, and serves as sub-arrangement.  “1929” is the year of publication, important when there is more than one edition of the work.

To find material on the shelf using a call number go one element at a time. First find the “BR” section, then follow the numbers as they increase from 1 to 110, then look for the J’s. As you do this, you’ll discover the wonderful world of browsing.

Nobody wants to spend all day toiling over a hot electronic device searching for stuff in a catalog. A subject-based classification system allows you the opportunity to find related material on the shelf without having to search for it. For example, on the same block as the James book, you’ll find:

Psychology and mystical experience   BR 110 .H6

The logic of the spirit: human development in theological perspective           BR 110 .L615 1998

Religious pathology and Christian faith          BR 110 .L62

The complete LC Classification System is very complex and detailed, running into the tens of thousands of pages. You don’t need to understand the complexities to use it effectively, but there are a few questions that may pop up in future blogs. For instance, why put a book on psychology and religion in the religion section (BR) rather than the psychology section (BF)? Sort of like deciding in which room to put eclectic music.

But I will let you in on a dirty little secret: most catalogers don’t do a lot of classification from scratch.  It‘s simply too complicated and time-consuming to do everything. Instead, they use information supplied by the Library of Congress and other major cataloging agencies, adapting them to local conditions as necessary. If you’ve ever used the WorldCat database, that’s where most of our cataloging information comes from.

724px-Light_bulb_icon_tips_svgSo now you know how many catalogers it takes to change a light bulb. Only one. But they have to wait and see how LC did it.


David Moody, Associate Librarian

Grass-Roots Social Justice Organizations in Metropolitan Detroit: Part 2

grassroots-sliderIn my continued efforts to locate individuals and groups doing good work for Detroit and surrounding environs, I came upon these.  Please spread the word about them; and even consider joining one of them if you are so inclined.


People’s Potluck Detroit

A spinoff of Occupy Detroit, this group holds an educational potluck on the fourth Monday of most months (meaning the next one will likely be on March 28).  The February potluck was focused on the resistance to tar sands destruction; the January potluck, on the Homrich 9 and the Detroit Water Shutoffs.  If you want the chance to learn about current issues and maybe participate in activism, this is a great opportunity!

Michigan Urban Farming Initiative

urban farming

The “About” section of this organization’s Facebook page describes itself thus: “Using agriculture as a platform to promote education, sustainability, and community—while simultaneously reducing socioeconomic disparity—we hope to empower urban communities.”  Here are links to MUFI’s Facebook and main pages:

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ)

dwejThe “About” section of this group’s page states ” DWEJ is a Detroit-based non-profit organization dedicated to improving the environmental and economic health of our community.  Here are links to DWEJ’s Facebook and main pages:

Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

This organization, located in Michigan, is involved in environmental causes both in-state and beyond.  (While the Flint water crisis is looming large these days, indigenous peoples in other parts of the world have been going through similar conditions, and worse., for much longer.)

Food & Water Watch – Michigan

fwwAnother organization that is currently highlighting the Flint water crisis; but also keeps up-to-date on underwater oil pipelines in Michigan; the water rates in Detroit; and GMO labeling (among other things).


I’d love to hear about other local organizations and individuals who are doing creative and positive things for our community!  Please email me ( if you know of any; and you may see your contributions in a future blog!

Kris McLonis, Associate Librarian

Income Tax Forms

It’s that time again. Time to file your income tax with the federal government, state, and city.


To find the federal tax forms, go to:

Michigan taxes

To find the State of Michigan tax forms, go to:

Detroit logo

To find city of Detroit tax forms, go to: Click City Tax.


To find other Michigan cities tax forms, go to the State of Michigan tax forms webpage: Click “Tax Forms and Instructions”, click “City Income Tax Forms.”


For student IRS information, other Michigan city income tax forms, or forms for other states or countries, see the Virtual Reference Desk General Resources LibGuide, select the Tax Forms tab.


Here’s hoping you get a hefty return!

Provided by Sue Homant, Librarian

The Ides of March


It’s the one of the most notorious dates in history; the day Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C.

It’s been immortalized by Shakespeare:

Soothsayer: “Beware the Ides of March.” Act 1 Scene 2

Caesar: (To the Soothsayer) “The Ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: “Ay Caesar, but not gone.
Julius Caesar: Act 3 Scene 1
Almost everyone has heard the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” and they know it means certain doom, but where does all of this come from?  What are Ides anyway?

Ides refer to the days in the ancient Roman calendar that mark the middle of the month. Since it was a lunar calendar, this marked the full moon.  For most months this was the 13th, but the 15th for the longest months.  March would also have been the beginning of  the Roman  New Year.  In addition to the usual sacrifices, other celebrations were observed during this time–such as the feast of Anna Perenna: the goddess of the circle, or ring, of the year.

But what about the rest of it? How do we know about Julius Caesar’s assassination?

One source comes down to us from Plutarch.  In his Parallel Lives, beginning at chapter 63, all the signs point to a bad end:*.html

Another is Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars, written about A.D. 121*.html

For articles on the Ides of March see JStor:


It turns out other unfortunate things have happened on March 15th

Research & Information Services


Have you ever noticed those people sitting at the desk with the sign over it that reads “Research & Information Services”? Have you ever noticed that sign? Have you ever wondered why those people are sitting there? At the reference deskWell, the people sitting at the Research & Information Services desk are faculty librarians and they can help with a lot more than just selling you a scantron, of course we’re happy to do that too!

Librarians are research specialists that can assist you with many things including:

  • Finding print and electronic resources using the library catalog
  • Locating print resources in the library using the Library of Congress Call number
  • Accessing and locating articles using the library’s research databases (on or off campus!)
  • Developing a search strategy to quickly get you to the best results
  • Scheduling a one-on-one research instruction meeting in a specific subject area
  • Coordinating with faculty to develop class specific instruction session

Maybe most importantly, know that you can always Ask a Librarian, whether in person, by chat, email, or phone. We’ll do our best to find the answer to your question.

Finding Statistical Information

StatisticsMaybe you are looking for the number of live births in the United States in the year 2000. Or maybe it’s the percentage of children in Michigan who received the chicken pox vaccine in 2014. Or maybe it’s the crime rate in Detroit. You may have a need to know airline on-time performance or maybe you need the box scores from the 2005 Major League Baseball All Star Game (bonus points if you know where it was played.) The library portal page has all sorts of statistical resources to find any stat you may need.  Here is a selection of sites you may find useful.

Fed Stats

FedStats provides a range of official statistical information produced by the Federal Government on such topics as economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, farm production and more.

Health Statistics and Reports

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services develops statistics to provide basic information about health events in Michigan. Data is available at the state, county and community level.




The U.S. Census Bureau website provides access to census data from 1790 to 2010. It is the leading source for data about the nation’s people and economy.


DemographicsNow: Business & People

This Gale database provides highly-detailed demographic data on income, housing race, age, education, retail spending, consumer expenditures, businesses and more by state, county, zip code, congressional district and more. Customizable and printable maps show road and aerial views to review demographics on people and businesses. Users can easily and quickly produce a variety of reports, both standard and custom. Off-campus access will require authorization.

TradeStats Express

This site, managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides trade statistics by market and industry at the state, national and international levels. Data can be displayed in maps, graphs, tables.

Statistical Abstract of the U.S.

The Statistical Abstract is a comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. It contains over 1,400 indexed tables that are searchable and browsable. The Statistical Abstract is a favorite “go to” resource for librarians. Off-campus access will require authorization.

General Resources LibGuide – Statistics Tab





The statistics page of the UDM General Resources LibGuide has multiple links to statistical websites. From crime stats to health stats to economic indicators and sports stats, there’s a better than even chance you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Need more help? Stop by the library and ask a librarian.







Twitter for Research?

Twitter_logo_blueIf all you’ve heard about Twitter is that it’s an online place where users discuss the contents of their lunch bags, give it another look.

Since it’s founding in 2006 Twitter quickly became a source of news & research shared nearly in real time.  News media in every form tweet out headlines 24/7. Every professional association and scholarly journal use Twitter to bring traffic to their website. And can also be a valuable way to keep up on what’s going on.

By 2008 a paper was presented at an international conference on e Learning and Software for Education entitled Can we use Twitter for educational activities   

A major medical journal now includes a “tweetable abstract” of research studies encouraging authors to summarize the paper’s thesis, in 144 characters or less of course.

As with any information source Twitter has to be read with a critical eye   Be aware that some twitter feeds, just like websites are marketing devices; doesn’t make them worthless, but be aware of what you’re reading.

Following favorite authors is a good way to learn more about them and their work.

Resume Writing with Learning Express Library

Learning ExpressEven though the end of the semester is a few months away, now is the time to start thinking about getting a resume together for that summer internship, or for that first “real job.”

Writing a resume can be a daunting task from what to add, how to word it, to how to format it. Don’t fret.  If you have never written a resume before or it’s been awhile, Learning Express Library can be a good place to start.

Learning Express Library provides tutorials on creating an effective cover letter and explores the resume writing process. Learn how to format a resume, use action words and keywords , and view sample resumes.

It even goes one step further and provides job search strategies using social media, networking tips, and  how to interview with confidence.

To access Learning Express Library, just follow these steps:

Learning - databaseSelect Learning Express Library from the library’s database list.



Register LExL

Register for an account






Career CenterSelect the Career Center







Job searchSelect Job Search and Workplace Skills






Job search 1Then on the left side, select the area where you would like to start.


Good Luck!


And don’t forget to visit UDM’s Career Education Center for even more great resources!







iMedicalApps – health care app review site

app with starDo you have any health care apps on your phone? Consumer health or patient apps like My Fitness Pal, WebMD, or Zipnosis? With the explosion of mobile technology and available apps, how do you know that an app is “good”? After all, anyone with a moderate level of coding know-how can create and sell an app. The app just has to work; the information it contains doesn’t have to be correct. Enter iMedicalApps. iMedicalApps is a renown blog written by a team of practicing physicians and other health professionals.  The blog’s purpose is to review mobile medical technology and provide readers with expert opinion and comments on available applications and technologies. Not only does iMedicalApps review technology in terms of usability, the writers review content. They offer sections that detail their likes and dislikes of an app, overall impressions, comments on user interface, and real world applications. Reviews include multiple screenshots of pages within the app so readers have a good idea how the app looks before they download it. Reviews also contain a 1-5 star rating for each section.

How do you know you can trust iMedicalApps? As you are probably aware, readers need to beware of potential biases and conflicts of interest between writers and their subjects. For instance, how do you know the 4-star ratings on that Apple store app you are considering purchasing aren’t written by reviewers paid by the developer? iMedicalApps writers and editors are an unbiased source; they do not create apps. They provide patient care.

iMedicalApps offers multiple lists of “top apps” to highlight apps in various areas: Best Medical Apps Released in 2015, Top 10 Family Medicine apps, 5 best note taking apps for Android, and more.

If you are thinking about using a health app in the future, why not check for an iMedicalApps review before you download. It could save you time and even money.




Dewey or Not Dewey: That is the Classification

When you use the UDM Library regularly and faithfully – and you really should; ; after all, you’re paying for it – the day will inevitably come when you will need to find a physical book in the physical shelf in the physical building. Sorry, but not everything is on the Internet just yet. They’re still making room for cat videos and those vacation photos you wish weren’t there.

debateWhen that day does come, you will notice that the UDM Libraries do not use the Good Ol’ Dewey Decimal System you’re used to seeing. It may come as unpleasant shock so know that our system for classification – arranging materials by subject matter – was devised by Congress.



OK, it’s not that bad. Library of CongressWe’re not talking about the politicians on Capitol Hill, but the Good People at the Library of Congress (LC). These are not just skilled librarians, but also scholars with advanced degrees in their subject areas. The only filibusters they deal with are the ones in JK 1021.

Why not use the simple Dewey numbers instead of LC’s complicated mishmash of letters and numbers? Because university libraries do not serve the same purposes or collect the same sorts of materials as public libraries. They are generally much larger, and collect more specialized materials in support of their academic curriculums. The LC System is more flexible in arranging such information because it can be more easily expanded.

Take, for example, the subject of chess. The Public Library probably has a few general books on the subject, under the number:


            This number will cover a wide range of chess materials, and indeed might be used for everything. An academic library, on the other hand, might have a larger collection with more specific subject matter; for instance,

GV       GV       GV       GV       GV       GV

1439    1445    1450    1451    1451.3 1455


            For, respective, biographies, general works, openings, middle games, end games, and tournaments.

This method of expandability ability to accommodate more specific subjects is also available in Dewey but only by adding agits to the base number. This can quickly become a nightmare for users, not to mention book shelvers and labelers. For example, a journal  about chess in Quebec would be simply GV 1314 in the LC system; with Dewey, it would be 794.1060714281. And that’s just the start. I’ve seen Dewey numbers with over 25 digits.

Finding books on the shelf using the LC System is actually easy; just go one line at a time, and you’ll get there with little trouble. Explaining the system is another matter, and perhaps best left for another blog post.


David Moody, Librarian

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