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Understanding library shelf numbers

Advice for finding books and journals using shelfmarks found on the Library Catalogue

Finding books

Each subject is given a classification or shelf number to help you find the book you want in the Library. You can find the shelf number of a book or journal by using the Library Catalogue (where you can also find links to e-books to view online).

You should take care to note down the shelf number exactly, including any punctuation. Shelf numbers may include one or more decimal points. The books are placed in numerical sequence on the shelves as given in the examples below.

You can find out where the shelf numbers are located by checking the floorplans or asking a member of library staff. The ends of the library shelves usually show the range of shelfmark numbers you can find in that row too.

Example 1 Example 2
373 943
373.01 943.087
373.055.2 943.087003
373.1 943.0874
373.1.055.2 943.1
373.2 943.1087

You may find punctuation such as the colon : and brackets (). These symbols affect the order of the books on the shelves.

The symbols will appear in shelfmarks in the order of colon, bracket and decimal point:

Example 3

To help you further, you may find 3 or 4 letters at the end of the shelf number. These letters are an abbreviation of the author's surname or of the organisation which has produced the book. The letters are arranged alphabetically after each individual shelf number:

Example 4
616.379 GRI
616.379 KEL
616.379 WRI

If you have problems identifying the shelf number, understanding how the books are arranged, or finding a book on the shelf, please ask a member of the Library staff for help. There is normally a member of staff available on the relevant floor.

Finding journals

Each journal title is assigned a shelf number which begins with the letters, PER and is followed by a number. For example, journals specific to social work journals can be found at Per 36.

The Library Catalogue record for each journal includes the relevant PER number. Within each subject section, the journals are arranged alphabetically by title.

Journals are generally shelved on the same floor as books on that subject.

Many of the printed journals are also available to read online via the Library Catalogue (where you can also find many additional online journal titles).


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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