Classification System

The arrangement of our non-fiction books rests on the use of a unique classification system devised by feminist librarian Wendy Davis in 1978, and was the first to take issues of concern to women as its central organising principle. This classification scheme is itself a substantial and important piece of feminist scholarship and activism, which has been adopted by other feminist libraries around the world.

There are sections for different subjects. Each section begins with a letter from A to P which you will find on each spine label:


B            History

C            Society, Customs and Beliefs


E            Politics; including the Women’s Liberation Movement

          Health; including Mental Health, Psychology and Socialisation


H           Lifestyles


K            Law and Rights

           Crimes Against Women; including Violence Against Women

M           Communications and Mass Media

           Arts; including Literary Criticism

           Leisure; Sport; Women Travellers


Non-fiction is shelved as follows:






This refers to the top set of letters on the spine label: this may be one, two or three letters.

Under each section, e.g. “A”s or “ABC”s the books are shelved in author surname order.

The first three letters of the author’s surname is at the bottom of each spine label. For example:





Coloured dots are used to identify both fiction and non-fiction books in the following areas:

  • Black Women and Women of Colour : Orange
  • Working Class Women : Light Green
  • Women with Disabilities : Purple
  • Jewish Women : Blue
  • Lesbians : Yellow
  • Irish Women : Green


Read more about our Collection here

View our Online Catalogue here

See our Opening Times here