The UK Standard Library Categories (UKSLC) Scheme

Refreshed version 1.2 (September 2019)

What is the UKSLC Scheme?

This scheme is designed for the public library sector to provide library-oriented category headings applicable across the full range of adult non-fiction, fiction and children’s/young adult stock. It forms a set of headings developed by BIC and which were originally an adaptation of the full BIC scheme of Standard Subject Categories and Qualifiers, where revisions to the latter considered the needs of both the library and trade communities.

A bit of background on version 1.2

BIC’s UKSLC Scheme was refreshed in September 2019 and is now based on the international Thema subject categories, taking advantage of the new developments featured in Thema.   

Version 1.2 constitutes the first significant update of the scheme since it was launched in 2008 as e4Libraires Subject Category Headings.

Users should note that all previous codes are still valid, however BIC recommends all users move to 1.2 ASAP to benefit from the updates that have been made.

This refreshed scheme should future proof the UKSLC Scheme into 2020 and beyond as Thema continues to develop and grow.

The key types of changes include the breaking down of larger categories into smaller ones to better aid discoverability and the introduction of new or updated codes to reflect changes in society. 

Who uses the UKSLC Scheme?

Many library authorities have adopted categorisation schemes for fiction and non-fiction over the past forty plus years. The majority apply these categories solely at item-level to determine shelf display, though a minority also use them to provide a searchable option within the main title-level catalogue record. However, most of these schemes are unique to the authority concerned and rely heavily for their operation on costly and time-consuming staff intervention.

Why use the UKSLC scheme?

Adoption of a scheme of Thema-based standard subject/genre categories, made available to libraries in addition to existing Dewey classifications, offers the opportunity to reduce cost and streamline workflows by automating the categorisation process, and to support further improvements in stock selection, management, discovery and display.

The scheme provides a comprehensive set of fixed title-level category headings capable of supporting and facilitating all the following functions:

  • shelf display/browsing 
  • electronic display/browsing 
  • standardised servicing 
  • reduction in complexity and cost of processing and selection 
  • evidence-based assessment of stock demand, supply and performance 
  • comparative performance analysis 
  • selection specification 
  • personalised recommendations 
  • links with retail sites

At the same time it offers authorities a degree of flexibility in determining item-level shelf marks, the categories used to organise and display stock in individual locations, allowing them to customise the scheme to meet their specific needs and to integrate it with existing schemes they have already developed.

It is very much hoped that UK libraries and their suppliers will adopt UKSLC v.1.2 as soon as possible. 


  1. Details of the refreshed UKSLC v.1.2 can be found here:
    BIC UKSLC v1.2 Grid with associated Thema codes
  2. Details of how the refreshed version was arrived at from v1.1 can be found here:
    BIC UKSLC v1.2 codelist with version history
  3. User Guide can be found here:
    BIC User Guidelines for UKSLC v1.2
  4. Worked examples can be found here: 
    BIC UKSLC Worked Examples
  5. The September 2019 press release announcing launch of UKSLC v.1.2 can be found here:
    Press release
  6. Endorsement for UKSLC v1.2 can be found here: 
    Statements of endorsement