The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Classification System.

Letters are used for broad subject areas with subdivisions for specific categories, some of which are listed below. Further subdivisions may be made by date or language.

A – General Reference

            AH – Literature

            AL – Biography

            AS – Societies 

G – Mankind

            GA – Archaeology, Ethnology, Anthropology

            GN – Social life, Customs, Popular culture

            GO – Antiquities, Folklore, Superstitions

            GR – Comparative religion

            GRQ – Folk drama, Traditional disguise, Display dance (including, morris, sword, step/clog, garland, and maypole dancing)

 M – Music

            MG  – General works, History and Theory

            MI – Instruments and Instrumental music   

MP – Vocal music (by known composers, or known historical period)

MPQ – Occupational song

MPR – Religious, Seasonal and Ceremonial Song

MPS – Folk song

 Q – Dance

            QL – General works on the art, history and notation of Dancing

            QM – Collections of Dance music (scores)

            QR – Community, Traditional and National dance

            QS – Social dance


The library is a highly specialized, multi-media collection, but the classification system is only applied to print media. In the early days, a version of the Library of Congress classification system was used. As the library expanded in both depth and breadth, the books were re-shelved to accommodate the patterns of use, and a new classification system was devised by Margaret Dean-Smith, then librarian.

For more information see:
Margaret Dean-Smith, (1993) "A Classification of Folk Music and Dance (with Relevant Subjects) Prepared for the Cecil Sharp Library", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 7 Iss.: 4, pp. 215 – 220 (shelved at AA box)