Wednesday, September 24, 2008

British Library Shelfmarks

It can be helpful to know some of the shelfmarks for the British Library. Unlike the Library of Congress system, the BL marks books according to location (although some shelfmarks also indicate type of source, like ZA...ZK=periodical). You can plan your day better if you are familiar with some offsite shelfmarks, since those materials take longer to be delivered to the reading rooms.

1. Items that have shelfmarks with the prefixes listed below are available on the open access shelves of the listed reading room:

HLL, HLR, etc Humanities - Floor 1
HUL, HUR, etc Humanities - Floor 2
HUS Humanities - Floor 2 (Sound Archive)
MSL, MSS, etc Manuscripts Reading Room
MUS Rare Books and Music Reading Room (Music)
OI Oriental and India Office Collections
OPL, etc Social Sciences
RAR, RAX, etc Rare Books and Music Reading Room (Rare Books)

2. Newspaper Shelfmarks.

Shelfmarks of items held by the Newspaper Library are preceded by NL or NPL. These titles may be read only in the Newspaper Library Reading Room in Colindale, North London.

3. All material with the shelfmark DSC is held at the Document Supply service, Boston Spa. They take 24-48 hours to reach the Reading Rooms at St Pancras.

4. Science shelfmarks for books begin with (B) – e.g. (B) 004.6. Items from 2003 to date with these shelfmarks will be on open access

5. The 'Maps' shelfmark is self-explanatory. 'Maps OSD' refers to Ordnance Surveyors' Drawings. Maps.K.Top. indicates Maps from the King's Collection (that's what those books are in the transparent central tower of the library).

6. Some Historic shelfmarks (indicating original owner of material) at the BL:

Shelfmark range: 1.a.1. - 304.k.23.
Former owner: King George III (1738-1820)

657.a.1. - 666.a.69.
Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838)

669.f.3. - 669.f.27.
George Thomason (d. 1666)

671.a.1. - 688.l.9.
Revd Clayton M Cracherode (1730-1799)

Ashley.1. - Ashley.5711.
Thomas James Wise (1859-1937)

B.1. - B.746.
Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820)

Burney.1a. - Burney.1001b.
Revd Charles Burney (1757-1817)

C.1.a.1. - C.16.i.16.
King George III (1738-1830)

Dex.1. - Dex.316.
John Furber Dexter (1847-1917)

E.1. - E.1938.; E.2103. - E.2143.; E.2255. - E.2271.
George Thomason (d. 1666)

Eve.a.1. - Eve.c.29.
John Evelyn (1620-1706)

File.1. - File.849.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

G.1. - G.20240.
Thomas Grenville (1755-1846)

Voyn.1. - Voyn.137.
Wilfred Michael Voynich (1865-1930)

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