The Annotated Columbia Classification


The primary source is a microfilm called Columbia Classification Scheme dated
1942 and kept in SLS Library (microfilm F74).  This is a difficult document.
The original was not a unified schedule but a collection of mostly
typewritten papers which appear to be those used in the Cataloging Dept.
Some information is presented twice with unexplained variations and some is
missing.  In a few spots it is not clear which call numbers are used in
General Library and which in departmental libraries, or which of several
tables is for General Library.  In compiling the schedules and notes
following, I referred extensively to the shelflist to clarify, correct and
expand on the information in the microfilm material. Reference to past
practice as shown in the shelflist was always required.  I found that I was
compiling the only concise description of the scheme ever written.


The schedules in the present document refer only to the General Library.  Of
the other libraries, the Burgess, Carpenter, Classics and College libraries
followed closest to General Library.  Philosophy Library differed in
classifying works of Philosophy, and the other libraries differed in various
ways.  SLS Library was alone in using true Dewey Decimal Classification
(although with D prefix).  The Reference Dept still uses its version of
Columbia Classification.

Letter prefixes: 

In general, call numbers without letter prefixes are in General Library.  At
one time the following exceptions existed: 343-349 Law Library, 370-379
Teachers College Library, 500-699 various science libraries, 780-789 Music
Library.  The letter prefix L was used to designate General Library books in
those classes, except 780-789 for which there were apparently never any
L780-L789.  At the present time, Law and TC call numbers do not appear in the
General Catalog, Music Library's 780-789 have been reclassed, and 500-699
have been shelved in General Library (level 2 Annex) or marked "Science" in
the catalog.  The only remaining exception is 510-519, with none in General
Library, so the L prefix is no longer significant.

Other prefixes: 

All other prefixes designate non-General Library books.  The major ones are:
D : Departmental Library.  R : Reference Dept.  B : Rare Book.  LS : Library
Service reading room.  DG is part of Classics (Burgess-Carpenter) and the
several others are Rare Book Library special collections.  All are
significant, although D does not signify enough.  The prefixes seem to be
dropped from most automated catalog records, so they do not match the books'


This is an old classification schedule, and I have preferred the wording of
the original even though it is outdated in various places.  In brackets [] I
have occasionally supplied modern terms or explanatory phrases, but some
antique terms are left as is.  A few very long entries are shortened, and
some important subtopics are mentioned here with the main call number.