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Adding Classmarks / Shelfmarks to Titles


This help topic explains how to select a classmark or shelfmark for your title. It also explains the difference between classmarks, shelfmarks and subjects.

What is the difference between ‘Classmark’ and ‘Shelfmark’?

‘Classmark’ and ‘Shelfmark’ are strictly speaking two different things. In KnowAll Matrix and in this help topic we generally use the word ‘Classmark’.

  • Classification schemes are used to group or classify resources by subject content. A commonly used classification system is the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system, but others are available, or you can create your own. Note that SLLS does not generate a classification system; you need to build your scheme yourself.
  •  ‘Classmark’ is the number or term indicating the subject classification you have chosen for the resource. This would be the subject area that you think would be most helpful for users browsing the shelves.
  • ‘Shelfmark’ may additionally include the section of the library in which the item is shelved, hence ‘shelfmark’ and an author suffix to help sort the titles in alphabetical order by author within that classification if there are a lot of titles.
  • For example:
    • The DDC classmark for the subject Primary Education is 372;
    • You may wish to preface the classmark with REF to indicate the book is in the Reference section of your library;
    • You may wish to add an 3 letters of the author’s surname for sorting purposes: BAI if there are a lot of books in under that classmark.
    • The resulting shelfmark is REF 372 BAI which can be written on one line or 3 lines if you are trying to print it on a small label to stick on the spine of the book.
    • So ‘Shelfmark’ is sometimes referred to as the “spine label”.

In KnowAll Matrix you can call this field ‘Classmark’ or ‘Shelfmark’ depending on how you want to use it. . (Please refer to the topic on changing system terminology.)

How to add a classmark to a title

  • Log in as a Library Admin user.
  • Click on the Library Admin menu, then click Catalogue.
  • Under the Catalogue header, click Title Details (View/Edit) to open the View/Edit Title search screen, as below.
  • Start typing the name of the title into the search field. A list of close matches will be displayed. Click on the correct match to open to the Title Details (View/Edit) screen, as below.
  • The Title Details screen will typically load with the Details tab open. Otherwise, click on the Details tab to select it (as above).
  • Click on the Classmark field and start typing part of the classmark you wish to assign to this record.
  • Select the correct classmark from the list of close matches.
    • Note that a dropdown menu of all your classmarks may be used as an alternative to the search field. The two may be swapped via Configuration > Catalogue > Data Fields > Titles View/Edit Fields.
  • Click Save Details once the right classmark has been selected to save your changes.

For information on how to add new classmarks see the separate help topic.

Why can I only add one classmark?

Generally, it is advisable to add the same classmark to all copies of your title so users can find the resource under the same subject classification in different branches or offices.  It would be confusing if users visiting another location had to find it under a different classmark.

In KnowAll Matrix, classmarks are set at the title level, so all copies belonging to a title will have the same classmark.

Classmarks should not be confused with denoting the physical location of an item. Use the Copy location field to tell the users where the copy is physically located. This physical location might be the branch, campus, office, floor, room etc where you shelve the copy. Different copies could be shelved in different places. For more information see the help topic on how to add copies to title records.

How are classmarks and subjects different?

We have talked about subject classification. How does this differ from subject indexing or adding subjects?

The classmark represents the subject area you have chosen from your subject classification scheme to help library users browse your collection. It brings or classifies titles about the same subject together.

Sometimes a title is about more than one subject, e.g. the history of medicine. But you can only physically put the title under one classmark. Do you put it in the history section or the medicine section?  You decide. If your collection is mainly medical books then you might choose to put in under the history classmark. If you collection is mainly about history then you might chose the medicine classmark. It all depends on the emphasis of your collection and every library is different.

But you can still add as many subjects to your title so library users can still find the resource when searching by other subjects. So subject indexing is when you add multiple subjects so users can find titles no matter where they are classified.

Please see the Help Topic on adding subjects to Titles.

Updated on January 9, 2023

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