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FAQs: Using the catalogue

Log in

Search

Results and managing your results

Order/View items

How do I log in?

The 'Log in' link is in the top-right-hand corner of the screen.

Guest users do not log in. You need only log in if you are a registered reader, or registered document supply customer, wanting to order items.

How do I search for ISSNs/ISBNs?

Enter the ISSN or ISBN in the search box and click 'Search'.

To search for an ISBN we recommend that you enter the number without hyphens.

To search for an ISSN we recommend that you enter the number with the hyphen. Note that if you omit the hyphen you will find journal records that match the ISSN but you will not find matching article records.

How do I search by date range?

You can use a wild card to search for a decade or century:

Enter 176? To search for items published between 1760 and 1769
Enter 17?? To search for items published between 1700 and 1799

To search for items published between a range of years spanning more than a decade, search for each decade within the range you require and combine with decades with OR:

Enter 176? OR 177? OR 178? To search for items published between 1760 and 1789 (OR must be entered in capital letters; you need to search for each decade within the range you require)

How do I search for shelfmarks?

If you are sure of the punctuation used, you can include it in your search:
X989/5108
YK.2003.b.4785

If you’re not sure, exclude all punctuation:
X9895108
YK2003b4785

Don’t “mix and match” punctuation and spaces: no results will be found, e.g. not
X 989/5108 or YK 2003.b4785.
If in doubt, use the wildcards ? or *.

For shelfmarks with brackets and hyphens, include the following punctuation:

  • The initial brackets
  • The hyphen
  • The final brackets (if searching for a specific item)

BUT Exclude all spaces.

For example: (p)bw77e(22) will find the specific item, whereas(p)bw77e (with or without the * wildcard) will return all records with shelfmarks which start like this.

For Science shelfmarks in the Dewey sequence, include the initial brackets (as above) and make sure you include the decimal point in the number, e.g. (b)004.6

You can also search on elements of a Science shelfmark, by enclosing it in quotation marks, for example: “BW 87”, “EX 39”.

How do I search for titles using the 'Starts with' facility in Advanced search?

If using Advanced search to find a Title, using the 'Starts with' facility' you must enter your search term(s) in lower case.

How do I see the full bibliographic details?

Having found the item you are interested in, click on the 'Details' tab.

How do I print/save/email records?

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click on the 'Details' tab
  • Click 'Send to' in the top right-hand corner of the tab
  • Click either E-mail/Print or one of the Social bookmarking sites to save the record.

You can also email/print/save records from My Workspace. My workspace allows you to email/print/save more than one record at a time; more information is available on our website.

How do I add records to My workspace?

To add one record, click on the star alongside the brief details in the results list; the star turns orange once the item has been added.
Alternatively, click the 'Details' tab, then 'Send' to in the top right-hand corner of the tab and choose 'Add to My workspace'.

To add all the records displayed on one page of results, click the 'Add results page to My workspace' link above the refinements, to the left of your results.

How are my results sorted and can I change the sort?

Results are sorted by relevance but there are other sort options available to you:

  • Date-newest
  • Date-oldest
  • Title
  • Author

To change the order in which you results are sorted, click the down arrow at
the side of 'Sorted by: relevance', which appears just above your results, and click to select another sort.

NB: Sorts are ‘sticky’; if you have chosen to resort your results by title, for example, when you carry out your next search this too will be sorted by title unless you reselect a different sort.

How do I see the holdings for a particular record?

Brief details of our holdings can be seen in the Details tab where, for journals and books in series, you will normally find the information in the 'Holdings Notes'.

For example, the journal 'Health Education Quarterly' has Holdings Notes:

Document Supply 4275.011400 VOL. 7, 1980- 9(4), 1982 ; 11, 1984- 23, 1996
General Reference Collection ZK.9.a.767 Vol. 21, no. 1 (1994); v. 22, no. 3 (1995)-v. 23, no. 4 (Nov. 1996)

This means we hold copies:

  • In our Document Supply Collection we hold:
    • vol. 7, 1980 up to vol. 9, issue 4 1982
    • vol. 11, 1984 up to vol. 23 1996
  • And in our General Reference Collection we hold:
    • vol. 21, issue 1, 1994
    • vol. 22, issue 3, 1995 up to vol. 23, issue 4, 1996.

More detailed holdings information is available as part of the ordering process:

Why can't I see an edition of an item I know you have, when I have sorted by results by date?

Explore the British Library clusters together different versions of items in your Results list.

You can sort a list of results by date-newest and date-oldest. However, because different versions of items are clustered together, you may find only one of the clustered items is sorted correctly.

For example a search of "Magritte Rene" includes 6 versions of the item ' Rene Magritte : catalogue raisonne / edited by David Sylvester'. Sorting the results by date-newest, the clustered record that displays in the list of results is dated 1997 but not all of the clustered versions were published in 1997.

Why don't I see the results I expected/ Why can't I find record for items I know you have?

Some records contain author / contributor links in the 'Details' tab; this search option is 'sticky'.
If you click the author / contributor links in the 'Details' tab the system carries out an author / contributor indexed search.
Thereafter, all subsequent searches will have the same author / contributor index applied and you may not see the results you expected.
To clear the index, click 'Explore Home', on the navigation bar, before you carry out another search.

How do I order items as a guest user?

The ordering options available depend on the type of material:

Brief information on ordering is below; more detailed information is available on our website.

Printed items and articles

Guest users can order copies, subject to copyright, of some printed items - or parts of these items - but cannot request loans.

To order copies of printed items found in Explore the British Library you must
have a British Library Online Account registered for document supply services. Even if you are registered

  • With our Box Office
  • For our Management and Business Studies (MBS) Portal

and have a British Library Online Account you must also register for a document supply account until further system changes are implemented. You can register online for our document supply services.

You can only order copies of items in the remote supply collection. To restrict your search to remote supply items, click the drop-down arrow to the right of 'Everything in this catalogue' and select Remote Supply.

Having searched for and found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Select the 2nd option to 'Deliver item to: My home or office' and click the 'Go' button.

A new browser window will open, displaying the item’s details in our Document SUpply Service. To complete the ordering process follow the on-screen help; more information on ordering is available on our website.

Theses

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to 'View online: Thesis listed on EThoS.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.

Items freely available online

Explore the British Library contains records for:

  • Websites archived by the British Library as part of the UK Web
  • Archiving Consortium
  • Research datasets
  • Freely available websites, selected by Library staff
  • Freely available electronic journals.

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to view the item online.

How do I order items as a registered reader?

If you want to order item to a reading room, you must first log in.

If you want to order items to your home or office you should not log in, you must order as a guest.

The ordering options available depend on the type of material:

Brief information on ordering is below; more detailed information is available on our website.

Printed items

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to 'Deliver item to the Library's Reading Rooms'.

A new browser window will open, displaying brief bibliographic details for the item. Below this, for each copy of the item we hold, are the:

  • Shelfmark
  • Availability
  • Delivery time

and a 'Select' button, alongside each copy. Below these details are two
buttons:

  • Request for today
  • Add to basket

To complete the requesting process follow the on-screen help; more information on requesting is available on our website.

NB: Some articles are also available electronically. For these items you will see a 'View online' option in the 'I want this' tab. Due to licensing restrictions, electronic items can only be viewed on Library PCs in our Reading Rooms.

Articles

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click 'Go' to search for title records to order item; a new window opens with a results list of items that match the title of journal/conference/book in which the article was published.
  • Using any relevant record presented, you can order the printed item.

NB: Some articles are also available electronically. For these items you will see a 'View online' option in the 'I want this' tab. Due to licensing restrictions, electronic items can only be viewed on Library PCs in our Reading Rooms.

Theses

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to 'View online: Thesis listed on EThoS.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.

Subscribed electronic items

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to view the item online.

NB: Due to licensing restrictions you can only view subscribed electronic items on Library PCs in our Reading Rooms.

Items freely available online

Explore the British Library contains records for:

  • Websites archived by the British Library as part of the UK Web
  • Archiving Consortium
  • Research datasets
  • Freely available websites, selected by Library staff
  • Freely available electronic journals.

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to view the item online.

How do I order items as a registered document supply customer?

The ordering options available depend on the type of material:

Brief information on ordering is below; more detailed information is available on our website, or you can watch a video of the process.

Printed items and articles

Registered document supply customers can only order copies of items in the remote supply collection. To restrict your search to remote supply items, click the drop-down arrow to the right of 'Everything in this catalogue' and select Remote Supply.

Organisations registered for our document supply services may also order loans of items. Loans are not available to individual document supply customers.

Having searched for and found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Select the 2nd option to 'Deliver item to: My home or office' and click the 'Go' button.

A new browser window will open, displaying the item’s details in our Document SUpply Service. To complete the ordering process follow the on-screen help; more information on ordering is available on our website.

Theses

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to 'View online: Thesis listed on EThoS.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.

Items freely available online

Explore the British Library contains records for:

  • Websites archived by the British Library as part of the UK Web
  • Archiving Consortium
  • Research datasets
  • Freely available websites, selected by Library staff
  • Freely available electronic journals.

Having found the item you are interested in:

  • Click the 'I want this' tab
  • Click the 'Go' button to view the item online.

 How do I order items if I have a technical problem when I try to use the catalogue?

You can contact our Customer Services team who will order on your behalf. Customer Services are open: Monday - Friday 08.30-17.00 and Saturday 10.00-16.00

Guest and customers of our document supply services, contact:

Registered readers, contact:

Note that Explore the British Library requires that your browser:

What is itemVIEWER and what type of content can I view with it?

itemVIEWER enables us to display images really well; PDF files are better for viewing text.
itemVIEWER also provides you with additional functionality.

We are piloting the use of itemVIEWER and currently it is being used to view out-of-copyright nineteenth century books which were previously digitised for another project. However, we hope to be able to increase the available content in subsequent releases.