Recorded Music Demystified

Many patrons (and even some staff) have a difficult time trying to decipher the system used to organize Central Library’s recorded music collection. The ANSCR (Alpha-Numeric System for Classification of Recordings) system is used to organize our collection of music compact discs, cassettes and LPs instead of the Dewey decimal classification system. In the Library catalog, the call number for these formats is a series of letters and numbers in four groups. Each group is called a “term.”

What an ANSCR call number looks like:

For Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles

On the computer: [CD] MA BEAT SPL B 28

On the label of the item:

MA (Pop)
BEAT (Beatles)
SPL (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely)
B 28 (Beatles 28)

Explanation of the four terms:

Term 1: Letter or letters representing one of the ANSCR categories for a type of music.
Term 2: The first four consecutive letters of the composer’s surname, performer’s surname, author’s surname, title, or topic
Term3: Initial letters of the first three significant words of the title, or the first three consecutive letters of a one-word title
Term 4: First letter of the performer’s surname followed by the last two digits of the recording company’s production number

For more information on the ANSCR Classification System for sound recording click on the link below or ask a knowledgeable staff person in the Arts Division, we are always happy to help you!

ANSCR Guide


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