Numbering the Saints

When a person becomes a saint, we in the backroom of the library move into action. Books about Catholics in general are cataloged under the Library of Congress number BX4705. This is the call number for any Catholic person – from Cardinal John Newman to a person few people have ever heard of. However, most saints are classed under BX4700. For instance, Saint Francis is BX4700.F6 and Saint Bernadette (Soubirous) of Lourdes is BX4700.S65.

Therefore, when a person is declared a saint, it often means changing the information for every record in the catalog, relabeling the spines of every book, and rearranging the shelves for space.

When John XXII and John Paul II were recently named saints you can imagine the amount of work we were facing – John Paul II alone accounts for nearly 300 books in our collection (as the subject; we also have more than 500 items for which he is listed as an author, but that’s different). Luckily there is an exception to the cataloging rule: popes! Popes also have their own numbers and when one becomes a saint the number doesn’t change. Whew!

Rest assured, however, that we look forward to the day Fr. Chaminade is canonized and will happily guide you to his new call number location.

- Joan Milligan, Catalog and Metadata Specialist

Photo is of the campus statue depicting St. Joseph, husband of Mary, mother of Jesus; carrying the boy Jesus on his shoulders. The statue, dedicated in June 2011, is next to the School of Engineering. 

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