U.S. Geological Survey Library classification system

Bulletin 2010_1992


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The U.S. Geological Survey library classification system has been designed for an earth science library. It is a tool for assigning classification numbers to earth science and allied pure science library materials in order to collect these materials into related subject groups on the library shelves and arrange them alphabetically by author and title. It can also be used as a retrieval system to access these materials through the subject and visible geographic classification numbers.

The classification scheme has been developed over the years since 1904 to meet the ever-changing needs of increased specialization and new areas of study in the earth sciences.

This system contains seven schedules:

  • Subject schedule
  • Geological survey schedule
  • Earth science periodical schedule
  • Government documents periodical schedule
  • General science periodical schedule
  • Earth science maps schedule
  • Geographic schedule

A geographic number, from the geographic schedule, is distinguished from other numbers in the system in that it is always enclosed in parentheses; for example, (200) is the geographic number for the United States.

The geographic number is used in conjunction with the six other previously listed schedules, and it represents slightly different nuances of meanings, in respect to geographic locale, for each schedule.

When used with a subject number, the geographic number indicates the country, state, province, or region in which the research was made. The subject number, 203, geology, when combined with the geographic number, (200), for example 203(200), is the classification number for library materials on the geology of the United States.

The geographic number, combined with the capital letter G, for example, G(211), is the classification number for an earth science periodical issued by a geological association or university geology department in the State of Maine.

When the letter S is combined with a geographic number, for example, S(276), it represents a general science periodical for a university or association in California.

When the letter P is combined with a geographic number, for example, P(200), it represents a governmental periodical issued by the United States Federal Government.

Geographic numbers standing alone represent classification numbers for the publications of geological surveys; for example, (200) represents publications of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Map call numbers have a geographic number preceded by the capital letter M, followed by an abbreviated subject number.

For example:



M = Map

(200) = Geographic region of the United States

2 = Abbreviation for the subject number 203— geology.

The introduction, which follows this abstract, provides detailed procedures on the construction of complete call numbers for works falling into the framework of the aforesaid classification schedules.

The tables following the introduction can be quickly accessed through the use of the newly expanded subject index.

The purpose of this publication is to provide the earth science community with a classification and retrieval system for earth science materials, to provide sufficient explanation of its structure and use, and to enable library staff and clientele to classify or access research materials in a library collection.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title U.S. Geological Survey Library classification system
Series title Bulletin
Series number 2010_1992
DOI 10.3133/b2010_1992
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office
Contributing office(s) Library, Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Libraries
Description iii, 74 p.
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details