- Does the Library make the full text of books available on its Web site?
- Where can I find full-text books online?
- Can the Library tell me how much my book, artwork, or other item is worth?
- What do the different Library of Congress numbers mean?
- How do I read a Library of Congress call number?
- How do I find a book's Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) number?
- How can I obtain copies of books and other materials from the Library? Does the Library allow users to borrow books?
- Why isn't my book held by the Library of Congress?
- How do I cite materials on the Library of Congress Web site? What resources are available for learning how to cite other electronic and print materials?
- Where can I find other lists of frequently asked questions on the Library's Web site?
Except for very rare instances, full-text books cannot be found on the Library's Web site. Full-text books that are available tend to be older publications published prior to 1923 that are no longer under U.S. copyright protection. Academic textbooks and recent works of fiction cannot be found on the Library's Web site, and recent nonfiction on the site is limited to Library of Congress publications such as annual reports, illustrated collection guides, Federal Research Division country studies, and a history of the Library of Congress. If you want to obtain a recent work of fiction or nonfiction not available through your local library, you should contact your library and ask staff there to place an interlibrary loan request for the book with another library.
Descriptions of the various areas of the Library's Web site where full-text books can be found, and tips for accessing them (some technical in nature), are provided below. Again, the books available through the resources below represent only a small fraction of the more than 21 million books cataloged by the Library.
Digitized Books in the Library of Congress Online Catalog
A number of full-text books can be found on the Library's Web site through the Library of Congress Online Catalog.
To retrieve records for digitized books in the Library's online catalog, you can search the MARC 985 field (learn more about MARC here). The keyword massdig is used in subfield $a to designate books digitized as part of mass digitization projects, such as the Sloan Foundation project. The keyword pmpull is used for books digitized individually or manually, such as those in the Digital Interlibrary Loan Program.
Conducting an Expert Search on the string massdig or pmpull would pull up records for all digitized books in the catalog if the number of results did not exceed 10,000 (which it does).
If you know the correct MARC 985 keyword, it is possible to conduct an expert search to retrieve specific digitized book subsets, such as Sloan Foundation books, International Digital Children's Library books, etc. To conduct a keyword search across all digitized books in the catalog, you can try the following Expert Search strings:
- (massdig or pmpull) and keyword
- (massdig or pmpull) and ("keyword phrase" and/or/not "keyword phrase")
For example, try: (massdig or pmpull) and (poetry and lincoln). You can modify the above strings to search within specific MARC fields.
Specific Digitized Collections in the Library's Online Catalog
American Memory Books
The above link provides access to more than 1,200 digitized books available through the Library's American Memory collections (please allow several seconds for the page to load). American Memory collections with the most books listed in the catalog follow:
- An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals, ca. 1490-1920
- American Notes: Travels in America, 1750-1920
- The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Region
- Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Perspectives
- "California as I Saw It:" First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900
Full-text books and periodicals available through American Memory's The Nineteenth Century in Print collections are not available through the online catalog.
Global Gateway Books
The above link provides access to more than 500 digitized books available through the Library's Global Gateway collections (please allow several seconds for the page to load). Global Gateway collections with books listed in the catalog follow:
- Atlantic World: America and the Netherlands
- France in America
- The Kraus Collection of Sir Francis Drake
- Meeting of Frontiers: Siberia, Alaska, and the American West
- Parallel Histories: Spain, the United States, and the American Frontier
- United States and Brazil: Expanding Frontiers, Comparing Culture
Digital Interlibrary Loan Books
The above link retrieves more than 1,000 full-text books made available through the Library's Digital Interlibrary Loan Program (please allow several seconds for the page to load). This program, designed to provide access to books too fragile to circulate on interlibrary loan, was discontinued in early 2008.
Sloan Foundation Digitized Books
The above link (please allow several seconds for the page to load) leads to 10,000 records for full-text books digitized as part of a program funded by a $2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The program, "Digitizing American Imprints at the Library of Congress," focuses on public domain works, with a major focus on at-risk brittle books and U.S. history volumes. The full text of all Library of Congress titles currently digitized as part of the Sloan Foundation grant (more than 66,000 titles as of May 6, 2010) can be found through the Internet Archive.
Note: To conduct a search of the Internet Archive for Library books part of the Sloan Foundation project, go the Advanced Search page. In one Custom Field drop-down menu, select the sponsor (not sponser) option and enter Sloan Foundation as the sponsor. In a second Custom Field drop-down menu, select the contributor option and enter Library of Congress as the contributor. Your search will now be limited to Sloan Foundation books contributed by the Library.
Other scanned books
The above link retrieves more than 500 full-text books not part of American Memory, Global Gateway, or the Digital Interlibrary Loan Program (please allow several seconds for the page to load).
Other Online Library Books
Several other areas of the Library's Web site provide access to full-text books. The Library's Rare Book & Special Collections Division makes available digitized items from its collections, including a number of books, on its Web pages. More recent Library of Congress publications, such as a history of the Library of Congress, annual reports, illustrated collection guides, and Federal Research Division country studies, can be found through the Library's publications page. The Library of Congress has contributed more than 68,000 full-text items to the Internet Archive; more books are added each week. To search Library of Congress books by keyword or title, go to the Advanced Search page, select contributor from one of the Custom Field drop-down menus, and enter Library of Congress as the contributor. Then, create a search query using the other search fields.
There are numerous organizations that provide access to full-text books online, though at present most free online books tend to be older materials no longer covered by copyright. Some publishers provide electronic versions of contemporary books, but unless you are able to access them through a public or university library subscription, there is usually a fee involved.
Several Web sites through which full-text books or listings of full-text book resources can be found follow:
- Google Books
Google has partnered with over 20,000 publishers and authors, and several major research libraries, to makes their books discoverable through Google Books. While only limited text can be viewed from books still under copyright, the full text of many public domain books, especially those published before 1923, is available. Use the Advanced Search page to limit your search to full-text or public domain books.
- HathiTrust Digital Library
Through a partnership with more than two dozen research libraries, HathiTrust currently makes available more than 4.9 million digitized volumes, approximately 15 percent of which are in the public domain. The HathiTrust Digital Library complements content available through Google Books: while some content between the two services overlaps, HathiTrust provides some content Google does not, including digital collections unique to participating institutions, works from institutional repositories, and native born-digital materials.
- Internet Archive: Ebook and Texts Archive
The Internet Archive includes the full text of more than 2.5 million online books and texts, including works of fiction, popular books, children's books, historical texts, and academic books. Books can be dowloaded and read in a variety of formats, including text (.txt), PDF, ePub, Mobi (for Amazon.com's Kindle), DAISY, and DJVU.
- The Online Books Page: Archives and Indexes
A large compilation of full-text literature resources on the Web. Includes sections on general-purpose collections with substantial English-language listings (large-scale repositories; significant indexes and search aids; and significant smaller-scale archives), foreign language and literature resources, and specialty archives.
3. Can the Library tell me how much my book, artwork, or other item is worth? The Library of Congress neither authenticates nor appraises books, manuscripts, works of art, or individual objects. Such services are provided by specialized businesses such as auction houses, professional appraisers, and antiquarian booksellers. Many of these businesses are listed in the yellow pages of metropolitan area telephone directories. In addition, many professional associations of booksellers and appraisers maintain online membership directories through which you can find a specialist to authenticate or appraise your item. See, for example:
- American Society of Appraisers
- Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (choose Appraisals and Appraisals & Collection Serv. from the drop-down list labeled Specialization)
- Appraisers Association of America
- International Society of Appraisers
- The Professional Autograph Dealers Association
Your local library is likely to hold general guides to collecting books and other items, as well as specialized price guides and compilations of auction records that will help you determine the range of prices at which specific items have recently sold. Standard price guides for books include American Book Prices Current (About) and Bookman's Price Index (About). A general idea of a book's current market price can also be found by checking listings of used and rare book sellers. Sites such as BookFinder and AddALL Used and Out of Print Search allow users to search across the combined listings of many online booksellers and to review asking prices for books.
A good starting point for learning more about the history and value of your book is Your Old Books. Authored by Peter Van Wingen and revised by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section Publications Committee of the Association of College and Research Libraries, Your Old Books answers frequently asked questions about book collecting.
Suggested resources and organizations for locating appraisers of prints and photographs, newspapers and periodicals, and artwork are also available online through several Library divisions. In addition, the Smithsonian Institution maintains more extensive online guides to determining the value of antiques, artwork, and other collectibles.
Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)
A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in union catalogs such as WorldCat and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or commercial suppliers. The Library of Congress assigns this number while the book is being cataloged. Under certain circumstances, however, a card number can be assigned before the book is published through the Preassigned Control Number Program. Please note that not all books that receive an LCCN are cataloged by the Library or added to its collections.
What is now known as the Library of Congress Control Number was originally known as the Library of Congress Card Number until the advent of machine-readable records for book materials in the late 1960s.
An LCCN can have one of two different structures, based on when it was assigned:
- 89-456 (numbers assigned before 1/1/2001)
- 2001-1114 (numbers assigned after 1/1/2001)
In addition, LCCNs for some items cataloged before 2001 may include an alphabetic prefix:
In the Library's online catalog, LCCNs are reformatted to remove hyphens and standardize character length. The Library's online catalog offers insight on what reformatted LCCNs look like as well as instructions for searching the Library's online catalog by LCCN.
Library of Congress Call Number
A Library of Congress call number is a unique number assigned to items in the Library's collections that represents the item in the Library's online catalog, identifies the specific copy of the item in the collections, and gives its relative location on the shelf. Library of Congress call numbers are assigned by Library catalogers based on the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system.
Information on the structure of LC call numbers and how to read them is described in a separate answer below.
Copyright Registration Number
A unique number assigned to all works registered with the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. The copyright registration number is typically formatted as two or three letters (depending on the classification) followed by one to seven digits.
Preassigned Control Number
A Preassigned Control Number (PCN) is a Library of Congress Control Number which has been "preassigned" to a given work prior to the work's publication. Works are assigned a PCN through the Preassigned Control Number Program. Please note that obtaining an LCCN for a book through the PCN Program does not guarantee that the book will be added to the Library's collections or listed in its online catalog.
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is an eight-digit number which identifies all periodical publications as such, including electronic serials. Most countries have an ISSN National Center responsible for assigning ISSNs to serials. In the United States, ISSNs are assigned by the U.S. ISSN Center at the Library of Congress.
Users sometimes confuse the following numbers with a Library of Congress number:
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) was approved as ISO standard 2108 in 1970. It is a 10- or 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. The Library of Congress does not assign ISBNs to books. Instead, there are over 160 ISBN Agencies worldwide, each of which is appointed as the exclusive agent responsible for assigning ISBNs to publishers residing in their country or geographic territory. The United States ISBN Agency, R. R. Bowker, is the only source authorized to assign ISBNs to publishers supplying an address in the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and its database establishes the publisher of record associated with each prefix. Review the ISBN FAQ for further information.
Universal Product Code (UPC) Number
Also known as a bar code. The UPC number is a string of digits that typically appears on the back of books (and other consumer products). The UPC number appears in association with a machine-readable code that appears as a series of black and white strips or bars. In the United States, UPC numbers are assigned to products by the organization GS1 US. An overview of the UPC can be found on the HowStuffWorks Web site.
5. How do I read a Library of Congress call number? A number of academic institutions have created guides on how to read Library of Congress call numbers. See the following Web sites for excellent LC call number overviews:
- "Understanding Library of Congress (LC) Call Numbers," American Museum of Natural History Research Library
- "Finding a Book on the Shelf--Library of Congress Classification," Colorado State University Libraries
- "Understanding Call Numbers," Honolulu Community College Library
- "How to Read Call Numbers," University of California Berkeley, Kresge Engineering Library
6. How do I find a book's Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) number? There is no comprehensive resource or database that you can check to locate a book's Dewey decimal number. The best place to begin your search is the Library of Congress Online Catalog. When you open a record for a book in the catalog, click on the Full Record tab at the top of the page and look for a field labeled "Dewey Class No." If this field is listed, it will give the book's Dewey classification.
Unfortunately, while many Library of Congress catalog records contain Dewey numbers, the majority do not. The Library generally assigns Dewey numbers to nearly all U.S. trade imprints--including all titles cataloged in the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) program, children's literature, and to many books in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
If you don't find a book's Dewey number through the Library's online catalog, another resource you can use to locate it is OCLC's WorldCat database. WorldCat functions as a collective catalog of thousands of libraries around the world. A subscription version of WorldCat is available at some public and many academic libraries, while a free version is available on the Web at http://www.worldcat.org. The subscription version of WorldCat will often provide the Dewey class number (the first part of the Dewey number) for a book, and both the subscription and free versions list libraries known to hold copies of a book. Search the catalogs of the public libraries that WorldCat lists as holding a copy of a book to see if any have assigned the book a Dewey number. The numbers may vary slightly from one library to another based on local guidelines and standards, but they will give you an idea of the Dewey numbers that libraries have assigned to a specific book.
Another option is to use a prototype service developed by OCLC known as Classify. Classify is designed to support the assignment of classification numbers for books, DVDs, CDs, and many other types of materials. Using Classify, you can identify a work by title, author, ISBN, LCCN, UPC, or OCLC number. The record that is returned will include the Dewey classification (as well as the LC classification) most commonly assigned to that work by WorldCat member libraries.
7. How can I obtain copies of books and other materials from the Library? Does the Library allow users to borrow books? There are two options for requesting books and other materials from the Library of Congress.
- You may request materials on interlibrary loan (ILL) through your local library. The Library of Congress does not loan materials to individuals, but does send out materials to other libraries on a case-by-case basis. These requests must be initiated through your local library. Generally, your local library will first attempt to request materials from another library before contacting the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress does not charge for this service; in some cases, local libraries charge a nominal fee for interlibrary loan. Additional information about the Library's interlibrary loan service is available online at http://www.loc.gov/rr/loan/.
- You may purchase reproductions of some materials from our Duplication Services office. This is a fee-based service. The Duplication Services Web site includes ordering and price information. Contact the Duplication Services office directly with specific questions:
Library of Congress Duplication Services
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, D.C. 20540-4570
Telephone: (202) 707-5640
Fax: (202) 707-1771
Please note that all orders must be accompanied by the reproduction number or call number for each individual item (these numbers can be found in online catalog records and are often included in publications). If numbers are not found via these means, they must be identified through your research or by requesting research services in the reading room that has custody of the material. Digital Imaging Services must include the digital ID.
8. Why isn't my book held by the Library of Congress? The Library of Congress acquires books and other materials for its collections through donation, exchange, and several other methods. The core of its collections comprises materials deposited with the U.S. Copyright Office. If you have not already done so, please contact the publisher of your book and encourage it to submit two copies of the book to our Copyright Office for copyright registration. Your book, as part of the registration process, will be considered for addition to the Library's permanent collections. It takes a number of months for works submitted to the Copyright Office to be processed, cataloged, and listed in our online catalog, so even if your work is selected for the Library's permanent collections, it will not immediately be available to the public.
Not all works received by the U.S. Copyright Office are selected for retention in the Library's permanent collections, however. Works not selected will not appear in the Library's online catalog. The selection of materials for the Library's permanent collections is governed by its Collections Policy Statements, which you can consult for guidance on the types of materials (including self-published or vanity press books) the Library may not be likely to acquire.
If your book is not added to the Library's permanent collections, a record for it will still appear, once processing is completed, in the online Copyright Office Catalog, which includes records for works registered with the Copyright Office since 1978.
9. How do I cite materials on the Library of Congress Web site? What resources are available for learning how to cite other electronic and print materials? The Library of Congress' Teachers pages offer guidance on citing electronic resources on the Library of Congress Web site. The examples are based on style guidelines commonly used in history (The Chicago Manual of Style) and language arts (MLA style) disciplines.
Examples of how to cite materials from the Library's American Memory collection, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, are also available online.
More extensive guidelines for citing print and electronic resources are available through Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online Web site. In addition, consult the current official edition of the documentation style being used for authoritative information on how to cite materials according to that style.
Many electronic databases available through libraries now provide suggestions for citing materials in them according to several documentation styles. Consequently, be sure to check entries in electronic databases to see if they include suggested citations (typically given at the bottom of an entry). Many databases also allow users to export citations into reference management software such as RefWorks, ProCite, EndNote, and Zotero that facilitate the creation and organization of bibliographic citations.
While the functionality of reference management software varies, most allow users to create and extract citations not only from database entries, but also from a host of primary and secondary sources, including books, articles, Web pages, audio recordings, video recordings, and legal documents.
10. Where can I find other lists of frequently asked questions on the Library's Web site? Frequently asked questions specific to a Library division, collection, or online content area are available throughout the Library's Web site. Lists of frequently asked questions elsewhere on the Library's Web site follow below.
- About the Library of Congress
- Accessibility of Library Facilities, Programs, and Services
- American Memory
- Business Reference Services
- Cataloging in Publication (CIP)
- Duplication Services (Ordering Reproductions of Library Materials)
- Electronic Copyright (Filing a Copyright Registration Online)
- European Reading Room
- Federal Research Division
- Federal Research Division Country Studies
- Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK) and Federal Library and Information Center Committee (FLICC)
- Global Gateway (International Collections)
- Handbook of Latin American Studies
- Integrated Library System Program Office
- Law Library of Congress
- Online Catalog (see also: Requesting Materials in the Online Catalog [PDF, 350 KB])
- Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room
- Poets Laureate of the United States
- Preassigned Control Number (PCN) Program (LCCN)
- Prints and Photographs Reading Room
- Research and Reference at the Library of Congress
- Talking Book Program (National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)
- Teachers' Resources
- THOMAS (Legislative Information)
- Veterans History Project
- Visitor Information
- Working at the Library of Congress
- World Digital Library