About Explore the British Library


With our catalogue you can search for records of our collections and for content free online. You can also use the catalogue to search our website.

About Explore the British Library

With Explore the British Library you can search:

  • Our 'Main catalogue'
  • Our website
  • Explore Further.

The 'Main catalogue'

A search of the 'Main catalogue' will find records for our collections of printed and online items. Also included are records for free online content. The 'Main catalogue' has records for circa 93 million items:

  • circa 17.5 million records for the Library's holdings of books, journals, newspapers, conferences, maps, scores etc.
  • circa 70 million journal article records
  • circa 5.6 million records of Library's Sound Archive items
  • circa 3.6 million Web Archive records 
  • circa 112,000 records for British Library web pages
  • 14,000 Trade Literature collected since mid-1980s. Our website provides details of our earlier trade literature collection.
  • hundreds of database records (most subscribed*; some freely available on the web)
  • hundreds of Research datasets records (freely available on the web)

* Owing to licensing reasons, most subscribed electronic items are only available from the Library's computers within our Reading Rooms and Business & IP Centre.

The catalogue also contains records for free online content, selected by our curators. Examples are EU Bookshop records and records of US Federal Government documents.

Explore Further

Explore Further contains over 200 million records for online scholarly materials such as articles and e-books, provided by publishers.

Except for etheses records, 'Explore Further' does not contain records for our printed and online holdings.

Much of the content is 'open access' and free online. Some content requires a subscription. Where we subscribe to content it will only be available to Readers, using Library PCs in our Reading Rooms.

'Explore Further' is our name for Primo Central.

Key features

  • An easy-to-use Refine facility, to filter your Results
  • Registered Readers can log on and request items to view in our Reading Rooms
  • Anyone can order copies of items in our remote supply collection
  • Alerts, for registered readers and registered document supply customers who log in, to provide you with updated results from your search queries.