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Locating books on the shelf

Search results from Library Search showing availability details

This library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme (DDC) to arrange books and other library materials on the shelves so they may be easily retrieved. It is used in many libraries and allows items about the same subject to be shelved together.

Book spines with Dewey Decimal Classification numbers

Classification numbers on books

  • The numbers in front of the decimal point indicate the main subject area (in this case 370). Look for this number first.
  • Next, look for the number after the decimal point (in this case 193). It’s easiest to do this digit by digit. In this example, look first for 370.1 then for 370.19 and so on.
  • Now look for the letter(s) and number(s). Letters are usually the initial letter(s) of the author’s name and are shelved alphabetically; the numbers are shelved in order. 
  • Collections
    • There is extra information at the start of some shelfmarks (catalogue numbers). This shows that a book is part of a collection within the Library.
    • For example: N.E. 279.32/R29 is part of the Near Eastern collection.
    • Find the collection first, before looking for the number. 
Shelf sign

  • Look for the signs at the end of each row: they show the range of numbers on the shelves. 
Diagram showing how books are ordered on the shelves

  • Rows run from left to right
  • Books are shelved from left to right.
Books awaiting shelving

  • If you can’t find the book on the shelf, check the trolleys in the Books Awaiting Shelving areas which are clearly marked on each floor.
  • If you are having difficulty locating a book please contact a member of staff who will be glad to assist you. 

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