The Bliss Classification uses letters and numbers and looks a little bit like a UK postcode. Books are shelved alphabetically. MT is shelved before MU. MU is shelved before MUDV.
Within each subject books are shelved alphabetically according to the author or first word of the title – so MUDV/Abr is shelved before MUDV/Wil.
Please note that upper case letters are generally shelved in front of lower case ones.
Bliss is essentially an alphabetical classification, and uses a combination of letters and numbers to order books by subject. So ‘I’ appears before ‘IA’, which in turn precedes ‘IB’, and so on. In this way IC is shelved before ICA, ICB etc. For example:
63 M = European history
63 MV = European history –Britain
63 MVO = European history –Britain– 1640-1660
In subjects such as literature and philosophy it is often the author or philosopher that is the subject of the shelf mark. For example:
3 YN = English literature – 1830-1880
3 YN D = English literature – 1830-1880 – Author beginning with ‘D’
3 YN D53 = English literature – Dickens
3 YN D53a = English literature – Dickens – Critical works
Once you have both the location and the shelf mark, use the signs on the ends of each bay of shelves to help you find the item that you require. It should be noted that the signs do not always provide an exhaustive list of subjects, but are a guide to the more significant areas of the collections.
Although Bliss is broadly speaking an alphabetical classification system, there are a number of additional rules that may alter where an item would be found:
1. Numbers file in decimal order
For example, 57 precedes 6, or 352 precedes 75
2. Numbers file before letters
For example, XTR6 precedes XTR followed by a letter or QXP1 precedes QXP
3. Filing order of upper and lowercase letters
When looking at letters forming part of a row of a shelf mark, capital letters will precede lower case letters. This is commonly found in literature (including Area Studies) and philosophy.
3 YN D35 – English literature 1830-1880 – Dickens
3 YN D53E 994 – Capital ‘E’ – original work – The Uncommercial Traveller and other stories
3 YN D53PD 993 – Capital ‘PD’ – original work – Oliver Twist (1993 edition)
3 YN D53PDa Par – Capital ‘PD’ – original work but lower case ‘a’ signifies critical work
– The companion to Oliver Twist by David Paroissien
3 YN D53a Col – Lower case ‘a’ – general critical work – Dickens and Crime by Philip Collins
However, items where the second row of the classmark is entirely in capital letters will file at the end of a particular sequence. This is commonly found in history and the social sciences (including Area Studies), art and, to a lesser extent, film and media. For example 63 MVTCHUwill file after 63 MVT Tee.
63 MVT – British history 1900-1950
63 MVT Tee – British history 1900-1950 – General Works
Britain, 1906-1951 : a welfare state by Peter Teed
63 MVT CHU – British history 1900-1950 – Churchill – Autobiography
My early life by Winston S. Churchill
63 MVT CHU Gar – British history 1900-1950 – Churchill – Biography
Churchill in his time by Brian Gardner
In some collections, most notably Art, large books are shelved in a separate sequence – indicated by the prefix ‘f’ or ‘folio’ before the location code
- Some subject collections have a Rapid Reference section, where general reference works such as dictionaries and encyclopaedias may be found
- There are designated re-shelving areas for recently-used material – these can be shelving bays or labelled trolleys, and are indicated on the library floor plans
- Please remember that some items are held in the closed access stacks – Please ask at Issue Desk, 4th floor, South Block, or see our website for further details
- All books related to Latin America, the Caribbean, United States, and Commonwealth studies are held in their respective area collections