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University Library

Finding Books

See also: Finding e-books

To find a printed book, first use the library catalogue. When you find the entry you need, look carefully at the box of information which tells you where the item is shelved. If it is an e-book or e-journal you can connect directly to the resource from a computer connected to the internet.

For finding a printed book in the library you will need to look at the information in the column marked SHELFMARK. The following information primarily applies to books with the Bill Bryson Library listed as their LOCATION, but much of the information is relevant to all the libraries.

  • The main part of the shelfmark is a number, but it may also include letters. This represents the subject. Books on the same topic are kept together at the same number e.g. 942.08 or PLC374
  • The following 3 letters are the beginning of the author's name (or title if it is an edited work) and help to keep the books which are at the same number in order e.g. 942.08 CAP or PLC374 YAN

  • If there are two sets of letters, the first 3 refer to the person the book is about (e.g. Shakespeare) and the next 3 are the start of the author's name (or title) e.g. 825.5 SHA/SMI. Books about a person are shelved after books written by them.

  • There may also be an abbreviation or symbol in front e.g. + 942.081 CAP This means the book is on a different set of shelves. See these lists for the most common prefixes used in the Bill Bryson Library and at Queen's Campus

Subject guides, floor plans, and the Library catalogue tell you which floor to go to. At the bottom of every record on the catalogue there is a link marked Item location. Click on the link to see a map of where the book is located. Alternatively look at the labels on the end of the shelves to find those corresponding to your number.

Palace Green Library


Palace Green Library houses Durham University's archives, early printed books and other special collections including the Local collection. In the Library Catalogue Collections have the shelf mark PG followed by the name of the collection such as Bamburgh, Routh or Winterbottom. To view these books you must visit Archives and Special Collections.

Leazes Road Library


The majority of items in this library will shelved using numbers and letters (see the example for books at the Bill Bryson Library). You may find items in the Teaching Resources Centre prefixed by TRC.

Queen's Campus, Stockton


All books use a numerical sequence that is followed by the first three letters of the author's name (or title) with the appropirate prexfix as necessary. The majority of these are the same as those used in the Bill Bryson Library (see above list) with the addition of TRC for items in the Teaching Resource Collection.