Swedish library classification system

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The Swedish library classification system, (Swedish : Klassifikationssystem för svenska bibliotek), or SAB system (SAB-systemet) is a library classification system for use in many public, school, and research libraries in Sweden. It primarily classifies books but is also used for other media, such as audio and video recordings. The first edition of the system was released in 1921 and was based on the classification that was used in the accession catalogs of the scientific libraries of that time. The abbreviation 'SAB' is for "Sveriges Allmänna Biblioteksförening" (Sweden's public library association). SAB merged with Svenska bibliotekariesamfundet (Swedish librarians' association) to form present day Svensk Biblioteksförening (Swedish library association).


The SAB system is regularly revised to track developments in new subject areas. The committee for classification systems for Swedish libraries a part of Svensk Biblioteksförening promulgates changes, corrections, and usage notes. Larger revisions may cause changes to the whole system and a new version of the classification system is published. The latest, eighth revision was started in 2002 and was put in use in autumn 2006.

Both the research libraries [1] (via the National Library of Sweden) and the public libraries [2] decided at the end of 2008 to recommend a transition to the Dewey Decimal system. The research libraries' major reason for transitioning are simplification: large parts of research literature is already classified in this system. For public libraries the concern is to have the same classification system over the entire country. A considerable savings would be enjoyed by both parties by not having to maintain a distinct national classification system.


SAB is built in a tree structure, where each individual subject has a signum. A signum is a code of one or more letters and sometimes other symbols, which together represent a particular subject category. The first letter, in upper case, indicates a general subject area (e.g. C for religion ). Additional lower case letters after the initial letter indicate more specialized subjects (e.g. Cg for practical theology and Cge for cathechethics. There is in principle no limit to how many subcategories can be formed in this way.

Additional notation

A signum can be made more precise with additional notation. The following additional notations exist:

AbLibraries, Ab-cLibraries : Sweden or Qaea-jMonetary systems : France.
Kc.3Swedish history : Middle ages.
Kj=eHistory of France: in English
F:doLanguage : psychology or Pcj:kTelephony : history
Dcz Chomsky, NoamLogic and language-oriented philosophy : biographies of Noam Chomsky
Ke(u)English history : primary source or Vpg(p) Nursing  : periodical
Ih,u or uIhArts and crafts : for children or young adults
Cba/LGOld testament : recording, gramophone record

In addition special additional codes are available which are only used on particular signums. These always begin with .0. For instance, the category Fc (the Swedish language) can be subdivided


Additional notation may be combined. Thus, Ab-c:b(p) for Libraries : Sweden : research : periodicals.

SAB main classes

The main classes of SAB are

See also

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  1. Kungl. Biblioteket (November 21, 2008). "Dewey nästa".
  2. Svensk biblioteksförening (January 11, 2009). "Svensk Biblioteksförening förordar Dewey".[ permanent dead link ]