Find a book in the Library

Follow the three steps below to find a book on the Library shelves


1. Find the shelfmark

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

On Library Search, you will find the shelfmark listed next to 'Available in Library' e.g. PS 3505.H3224 B54 1970

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.

The Library collections are arranged in alphabetical order by shelfmark, starting from the top floor. The large touchscreen kiosks on each floor can show you where books are located by shelfmark. Catalogue entries also have a link titled 'Map' that gives the specific location of a book. Alternatively search by the first two letters of the shelfmark using the floorplans.

If you cannot locate a book, please ask at the Information Hub on the ground floor.

2. Check the range guides on the shelving stacks

When you have found the correct area, check the range guides at the end of the rows. Shelfmarks run sequentially along the shelves. The numbers on the range guides should be read as whole numbers.

If you're looking for PS 3505.H3224 B54 1970 for example, it would be in the first stack as it falls within the range PS 3505 to PS 3515.

3. Check for additional letters

Read the next part of your shelfmark to narrow down further. After the first two lines, each line of the shelfmark may contain letters, an alphanumeric combination, a decimal number, or a year. The third part of our shelfmark PS 3505.H3224 B54 1970 has an alphanumeric combination.

Read the letter alphabetically and the number as a decimal, so:
.H3224 = H + .3224

The fourth part is also an alphanumeric, so read it similarly to the previous line. This will allow you to locate your book among others on the same shelf.


  • 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.