Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

Legal materials (typically books) need to be organized on the shelf to allow for the orderly retrieval of information. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has a system for organizing material by topic that is used by major libraries throughout the world. Library of Congress Subject Headings are a controlled vocabulary used to describe the topic of a book. Thus, all books in a law library that relate to human rights law in Ontario will be assigned the subject heading “Human rights — Ontario” and searching in an online library catalogue on that specific subject heading will retrieve all books on that subject held by the library. Related to these subject headings are Library of Congress call numbers that are assigned to a book depending on the book’s topic. The “Law of Canada” is usually assigned the starting letters “KE” followed by a number that relates to the topic (KE 850 would likely be a book on Canadian contract law). Some Canadian law libraries, however, use the “KF” letters to organize their Canadian legal materials (KF is ordinarily the “Law of America” and when Canadian law libraries use KF for Canadian materials, it is referred to as “KF Modified”).