Find a Book

Library Floorplans


1. Find the shelfmark for your book

The shelfmark is the combination of letters and numbers you find next to each item on the catalogue.

Shelfmark example: PR 6023.E833 S94

Library catalogue entryLibrary Search screen - Doris Lessing, The sweetest dream

2. Find its location using our directory

Each line of the shelfmark narrows down your search to the correct item and the first set of letters indicates the area of the building and shelf location. This is how the shelfmark will appear on the spine of a Library book:


Take a look at our shelfmarks or the directories on the ground floor of the Library. The Library is arranged in alphabetical order, starting with A’s on the top floor and Z’s on the ground floor.

Library shelfmark directoryOne of the shelfmark directories in the Library

ground floor entrance area

3. Check the number guides on the shelving stacks

When you have found the correct area, look at the numbers after the letters. They run sequentially along the shelves and should be read as whole numbers. Take a look at the notices on the end of each shelving stack, which display the run of numbers held there:

Library shelfmark ranges PQ to PRShelving stack number guides

If you're looking for PR 6023.E833 S94 for example, it would be in the second stack as it falls within this range.

4. Check for additional shelfmark letters

Read the next part of your shelfmark to narrow down further. It contains letters in alphabetical order, although some will include numbers too. The third part of our shelfmark PR 6023.E833 S94 does this.

Read the letter alphabetically, then read the number as a decimal, so:
.E833 = .833

The fourth part is also a combination of letters and numbers. Read the letter alphabetically, and also read this number as a decimal. This will allow you to locate your book among others on the same shelf.

Library books in shelfmark PR


  • Letters run alphabetically, numbers run numerically.
  • Anything after a decimal point should be read as a decimal not a whole number.
  • Shelfmarks with three lines come before those with four.
  • The general comes before the specific, e.g. books about General Philosophy are before books on Greek Philosophy, which are before books on Aristotle.
  • Brackets are irrelevant to shelf order.
Examples of different shelfmarks

Some of our books are classified using variations of a Sussex locally developed schema and some are classified using the Library of Congress Classification. These different types will look different on the shelves, and you will see a mixture of different lengths of shelfmark, from two lines upwards.

Here are some examples of how these different types would appear on the shelf:

Library books in shelfmark JC

A mixture of three and four-line shelfmarks that are classified in the Sussex scheme.

Library books in shelfmark E

A range of four and five-line shelfmarks that are classified by Library of Congress standards.

Library books in shelfmark Q

A mixture of three-line Sussex shelfmarks and four-line Library of Congress shelfmarks.