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Library classification scheme and subject guide

Tower Hamlets Local History Library covers a wide range of popular East End subjects, ranging from biographies of local people to migration, local industries, and political movements. The library collects published material in a variety of formats, including:

  • Books and pamphlets
  • Cuttings and ephemera
  • Photographs and illustrations
  • Maps
  • Newspapers and periodicals
  • Films and videos

Our library collections are organised according to an in-house classification system based on Dewey Decimal Classification, in which works on a given subject are assigned a classification number which enables them to be shelved alongside similar material for ease of browsing. You may already be familiar with Dewey as it is used widely in public libraries, including Tower Hamlets Idea Store.

Our Classification Scheme and alphabetical Subject Guide can be used to help you find relevant material for your research when browsing books on our open shelves, when requesting boxed material from staff (such as pamphlets, cuttings, or photographs), and when searching our online catalogue.

To search our collections for works on a particular topic:

  1. Go to the Advanced search page on our online catalogue
  2. Enter the classification number of the subject you wish to look up in the Class field, such as 080.1 for air raids in Stepney. To retrieve the maximum number of results, enter an asterisk (*) after the classmark before hitting Search (for example 080.1*).
  3. The results page will display a list of items in our collection which have been assigned your chosen classification number. Click any record to find out more about an item.

It is important to note that not all our collections are organised according to our classification scheme, and therefore some items will not show up in a search like the one above. These include:

  • Archives
  • Maps
  • Newspapers and periodicals
  • Electoral registers and trade directories
  • Named image collections
  • Films and videos

You can however use the Expanded Edition of our Classification Scheme to identify archive collections whose subject matter relates to different classification numbers.

Downloadable versions of our Classification Scheme, Subject guide, and the Expanded Classification Scheme can be found below. Printed copies of these documents are also available to browse in our reading room.