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Each book in the library has a classmark.

This is a series of numbers and letters on the spine labels of the library book. These are designed to ensure books on a similar subject and, here in the UL, of a similar size, are located in a similar place in the library.

In iDiscover the classmark is given in brackets after the physical location:


The classification scheme used in the UL for the majority of monographs on the open shelves is unique to the UL and known as the ‘three-figure’ classification scheme.  It is described below:


To see the subject stem most relevant to your research click here.


Books in size ‘a‘ are now seldom found on the open shelves. This is to free up more space for size ‘b‘ and ‘c‘ books which are the most popular sizes.


Books published before 1900 should be requested in the Rare Book Reading Room and in some classes books published between 1900 and 1950 should be ordered in the Reading Room.  If this is the case, it will be stated in the catalogue entry.


So in summary:


Staff will be pleased to advise. (Please ask staff in Reading Room or contact:  engcat@lib.cam.ac.uk)