This is the "Finding books" page of the "Books & e-books" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Books & e-books  

A guide to finding books in the IALS Library and further afield
Last Updated: Aug 18, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Finding books Print Page

Update information

Last updated:

Lisa Davies, April 2014


About the author

This guide was updated by Lisa Davies, Access Librarian at the IALS Library.

Click here for Lisa's full profile and contact details.

Need assistance?

Reference Desk hours:

Monday-Friday 9:30-17:00
Tel (0)20 7862 5790


    Your comments

    We'd love to hear your comments about this Research Guide. Leave a comment here or drop us an email.



    Books are be organised by jurisdiction or by subject, and are arranged by author within this subdivision. They are represented by a classmark (sometimes called a shelfmark) - a combination of letters and numbers indicating their location in the library.

    Books organised by jurisdiction have a classmark beginning with G followed by a number, then further subdivided by a letter, which may also be subdivided by a number;

    e.g. GA2.C.8 COM

    Books organised by subject have a classmark beginning with S, followed by a number, followed by three letters which are usually the first three letters of the author's name (or of the title, if there are more than three authors);

    e.g. SH5 DIC

    An more detailed outline of the arrangement of books can be found in the guide Classmarks and the Location of Resources in the Library.

    Back to TOP


    If you know the title or author

    If you are looking for a specific book it is much quicker to look it up on the catalogue, find out its classmark and then go to the shelf, rather than to just browse through the books at the shelves. You can run a Title or Author search on the Library Catalogue, or a combination of both.

    1. Go to the Library Catalogue and select Title or Author.

    Title search:

    Type the full title, you may omit the words "the" or "and", for example:

    The law of international finance

    law of international finance

    Author search:

    Type the Author's LAST NAME first, for example:


    McKnight, A

    McKnight, Andrew

    Once you've run your search, you can use the "Limit/Sort Search" option on the results page to modify your search to include, for instance, year of publication.

    2. If your search is successful note down the classmark and use the floor directories or the guide Classmarks and the Location of Resources in the Library to locate the item.

    3. If your search is unsuccessful, try a Keyword search.

    4. If your search is still unsuccessful, check whether the title is held at another library (see Finding books not held in the Library below).

    Back to TOP


    Searching by subject, keyword or classmark

    If you are not looking for a particular item, but would like to check the library's holdings for a particular subject, run a Subject, Keyword or Classmark search on the Library Catalogue.

    Subject search:

    This searches across the controlled subject headings of each item on the library catalogue.

    1. Go to the Library Catalogue and select Subject.

    Once you've run your search, you can use the "Limit/Sort Search" option on the results page to modify your search to include, for instance, year of publication.

    2. If your search is unsuccessful, try a Keyword search. Either start the search again, or click on "Search as Words". When you have found a book on your desired topic, take a note of the subjects listed on the catalogue record for that book. You can use these subjects for subsequent Subject searches.

    Keyword search:

    This searches across the entire catalogue record, so can be useful if your Title or Subject search does not bring back any results.

    - Go to the Library Catalogue and select Keyword.

    Once you've run your search, you can use the "Limit/Sort Search" option on the results page to modify your search to include, for instance, year of publication.

    Classmark search:

    If you know the classmark of the subject or jurisdiction you may want try searching the catalogue using the Classmark option or searching the bookshelves directly. To find out the classmark try:

    Back to TOP


    Finding the most recent edition

    In many cases core textbooks will have a number of editions published in different years. Once a new edition has arrived in the Library the previous edition is removed from the open-access library shelves and placed in the Library's basement store. These earlier editions are identifiable by having a depository number for a classmark on the Library Catalogue. The most recent edition will have a recognisable Library classmark eg Short Loan or GA2.C.1 JOW.

    In order to ensure that you have found the most recent edition when searching the Library Catalogue you should follow this procedure:

    1. Submit your search

    2. Click on the option "Limit/Sort Search" from the search results screen

    3. Tick the box for Sort Results by Year. This will list all of the items with the most recent edition at the top. If you find that all of the editions which your search turned up have depository numbers it may be worth re-submitting your search as a keyword search in order to find the most recent edition.

    Back to TOP


    Understanding the catalogue record

    The catalogue will tell you where to find a book by giving a classmark or a location statement. Given below are examples of classmarks, prefixes, filing marks, and location statements.


    Here are some examples of classmarks:
    SJ150, SG75, GA2.C.4, GP1.C.8, RF75, BG55, BB10

    And with possible prefixes and filing marks:

    RF75 GER
    RES BB10 AFR
    SJ150 ENC
    FOL SJ150 AAA5


    RES: This means that the book is in the Basement Store. See below.

    FOL: Shelved in a separate sequence of large sized books to save space. Consult the Library map to find the FOL books on each floor.

    PAMP: A pamphlet shelved in a box at the end of the run of books with the same classmark.

    All these prefixes can be combined, as in the examples above, so that RES FOL PAMP would mean a large sized pamphlet kept in the Basement Store.

    Filing marks

    These always come after the classmark and consist of three letters, usually the first three letters of the author's name. Within each classmark, books are shelved alphabetically by this filing mark.

    Location and classmark statements

    DEPOSITORY: Kept in the Basement Store. To obtain a book with this location statement, please complete a blue Basement Collection Slip available at the Enquiry Desk and hand it to the staff. The depository number must be noted on the slip.

    IALS OFFSITE STORE: Kept in an offsite store. A fetching service is available for this material which may take a day or two to retrieve. To obtain a book with this location statement, please complete a collection slip available at the Enquiry Desk and hand it to the staff. The classmark must be noted on the slip.

    SHORT LOAN: Heavily-used material kept in the SHORT LOAN COLLECTION behind the Enquiry Desk. Request textbooks by author and/or title. There is a time limit on the use of items from this collection.

    THESIS: Kept in the Basement Store. Please apply to staff at the Enquiry Desk. Request volumes by thesis number.

    ORDERED: Item currently on order from the publisher. The Library has not yet received it.

    IN PROCESSING: Item has been received from the publisher, but is still being processed. Apply to staff at the Enquiry Desk.

    Back to TOP


    Finding books not held in the library

    If you need to locate titles which are not held in the library try the following steps:

    1. Choose the option on the drop-down menu on the front page of the catalogue to search "All Collections (Senate House Libraries)" and run your search again.

    2. Check one of the many catalogues on the web which include the holdings of more than one library. This will save you time as you do not have to search many separate catalogues. Here are some suggestions;

    You may need to visit another library to obtain the material which you need. Alternatively you may be able to obtain titles from libraries using the interlibrary loan and document delivery services offered by the library at your institution.

    Back to TOP



    Many of the large law databases to which IALS subscribes provide electronic access to books. The main databases with significant book content are:

    • IBFD: international tax law titles
    • i-law: 25 maritime law titles
    • Lexis Nexis JurisClasseur: French law; Encyclopédies JurisClasseur
    • Beck Online: German law; includes Sartorius, SchÅ‘nfelder & Staudinger
    • HeinOnline: 4500 titles available in the Legal Classics collection, mainly US and UK historical titles
    • LLMC digital: mainly 19th and early 29th century foreign and international titles
    • Oxford Scholarship Online: OUP's law book collection of almost 900 monographs
    • Westlaw UK: 16 authoritative commentary titles

    All of these databases can be accessed through our Electronic Law Library and many can be accessed remotely too. Click here to find out if you are eligible for remote access.

    In addition to the above, IALS has secured access to individual e-books from a variety of publishers. They can be accessed from the DawsonERA link in the Electronic Law Library or from the individual book record on the Library Catalogue. After accepting the terms and conditions you can view the full text of the books online. All titles may be viewed onsite for academic use. In addition, IALS and SAS staff, fellows & students, as well as University of London law staff and postgraduate students may access them offsite. The current list of titles is below:

    The African Union: Legal and Institutional Framework

    Abdulqawi A. Yusuf

    Agreements: a Philosphical and Legal Study

    Oliver Black

    Comparative Legal Linguistics

    Heikki E.S. Mattila

    Corporate Governance, Financial Responsibility, Control, and Ethics

    Erik Banks

    The Design of Competition Law Institutions

    Eleanor M. Fox, Michael J. Trebilcock

    EU Administrative Law

    Paul Craig

    The Extraterritorial Application of Selected Human Rights Treaties

    Karen da Costa

    International Commercial Arbitration and the Arbitrator's Contract

    Emilia Onyema

    The Law and Economics of Intellectual Property in the Digital Age

    Niva Elkin-Koren, Eli M. Salzberger

    The Lisbon Treaty and Social Europe

    Nikals Brunn et al.

    The Making of the Modern Law of Defamation

    Paul Mitchell

    The Mind and Method of the Legal Academic

    Jan M. Smits

    The Nature of Legislative Intent

    Richard Ekins

    Proportionality and Deference under the UK Human Rights Act

    Alan D. P. Brady

    Reading Modern Law

    Ruth Buchanan et al.

    The Regulatory Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis

    Elis Ferran

    The Right to Reparation in International Law for Victims of Armed Conflict

    Christine Evans

    State Crime: Governments, Violence and Corruption

    Penny Green and Tony Ward

    Transnational Legal Processes and Human Rights

    Kyriaki Topidi, Lauren Fielder

    Understanding Regulation: Theory, Strategy, and Practice

    Robert Baldwin

    Violence Against Women Under International Human Rights Law

    Alice Edwards

    Back to TOP


    Loading  Loading...