There are several thousand physical books and journals in the Library, but that’s just scratching the surface of the available resources as the collections are always growing with electronic resources, e-books and online journals.
There are many different ways to organise these resources, and to show the range of them. Here we start looking at a few ways to see what’s “first” and “last”.
One way of sorting the books A-Z is to list them in order by title. If we do this, the first title is A.O.H.N. Journal, the journal of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, but since numbers are usually sorted before letters, the first title in the library is 0: for piano quartet, a score by Irish composer Gerald Barry.
The first personal name listed among the authors, editors, and so forth in the catalogue is A-k’uan, who worked on the 1986 Cantonese film A better tomorrow, directed by John Woo: the 2005 DVD of this is held by the Library.
Most of the Library’s holdings are arranged in subject order using Library of Congress classification, which assigns shelfmarks running from A to Z. You can find out more about this classification scheme at https://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/lcco/ and see guides to finding books by classmark on the ends of bookshelves. Within this scheme, A is for “general works” including collected works but also encyclopaedias, yearbooks, and general reference. Here are some of the books from the first shelf of the A class.