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Main Education Collections: UK and International: Main Collection

About the Main Collection



The Main Education Collection, or 'Main' is shelved on Level 5 at the UCL Institute of Education Newsam Library and Archives. 


The Main collection began in 1902, when the institute was known as the London Day Training College and since then we have consistently aimed to ensure access to a copy of every title concerning education published in the UK. We try to obtain all published resources regarding UK education, consequently the Main collection also contains materials about education globally.

Main collection consists of over 350,000 physical items with many of these titles also available electronically and contains resources from the early twentieth century to the most recently published research and textbooks. It is the biggest national collection of education materials and covers all aspects of education in the UK including resources about devolved governments i.e. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Loan types

Resources which are part of the Main collection are available for overnight (red labels), 1 week (yellow labels) and 4 week (white labels) loan. More information about borrowing can be found here. Due to space constraints, some of the older/less frequently used Main collection material is held in Store and can be requested at the IOE Library Help Point, the Library for reference use within the library.

Classification scheme

The Main collection uses a unique classification system called the London Education Classification (LEC) system. Although the classification may appear unfamiliar, it is easy to get use to as it is strictly alphabetical. This system is used for the Main collection as it allows us to provide as unique a place as possible for each resource so that it can be more easily found. More guidance on finding resources is available online and face to face our the library Enquiry desk on level 4. 

Using the collection

Given the size and the content of the Main collection, it is very popular with not only our own staff and students but also with students and researchers both nationally and internationally. If you would like more information about using our library, please see our Information for External Visitors LibGuide.

Further information

Further information about the Main collection can be found in our Collection Development Policy document linked to this page below.

Featured books in the Main Collection

Our collection development policy states that we will 'collect at a high level of intensity, to build a comprehensive research collection'. In order to do so, we endeavour to obtain a copy of all books published in the UK where the subject matter is UK education. Consequently, we get a lot of interesting items!

Finding on Level 5 (Main)

The Main Education classification sequence on level 5 is alphabetical. This classification is made up of a number of syllables, starting at 'Bab' and ending at 'Tux'. Each syllable is treated as a separate unit and there can be one or more syllables indicating the subject of the book written in upper and lowercase e.g. 'Mar', followed by the first three letters of the author’s surname (or occasionally the title) written entirely in capitals e.g LON. In this instance, the full classification would be 'Mar LON'.

To find a book, locate the relevant shelf using the classification sequence guides at the end of the shelving bays, then follow the sequence of letters alphabetically until you find the book which matches your classification exactly. Often, the classification sequence is unique to a single title, but be aware that sometimes, a few other titles may have the same location.


To find items with 'OVERSIZE' in the classmark, go all the way to the end of the Main education sequence (Tux). Here you'll find that the sequence starts again i.e. with 'Bab', but this time the classmarks end with 'OVERSIZE'.