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About the Catalogue

The catalogue contains descriptions of special collections held in Headington Library. The catalogue contains a ‘collection-level’ description of each collection, i.e. a general summary of the contents of a collection. Some collections have more detailed descriptions where the contents have been sub-divided into series, subseries, files, items etc. The structure of a collection’s individual catalogue is hierarchical and is sometimes called a ‘Tree’ as it looks a little like tree-roots (the series-, file- and item-level descriptions) spreading out from a trunk (the collection-level description).

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Each level of description will have certain fields of information displayed. At the very least there will be a title, a reference code (DocRef), the date range of the material being described, a note of the level of the description, and an idea of how much material there is (the extent). Most collection-level and item-level descriptions will have more information. Explanations about the kind of information you will find in each field are provided in the Glossary.


Please note that the catalogue includes the titles of published material, some of which contain overtly racist or racially offensive terms. These have been retained as part of the historical record but do not reflect the views of Oxford Brookes University or its staff.


You can search the catalogue in three ways:

  • A list of all the special collections is available on the Collections A-Z page. You can use the 'View Record' button to view the collection level description and from there you can browse the collection’s catalogue by clicking on the TreeRef.

  • You can search all the collections by using the Quick Search facility which is accessed via the box at the top left of each page. This will search DocRef, Title, Description, Administrative History and Notes.

  • If you can’t find what you’re looking for using the Quick Search you can carry out a more detailed search on the Advanced Search page. This allows you to search by DocRef, Title, Description, Date, Level, or you can choose an AnyText search which searches all the fields in a record.

To find out more about searching visit the How do I search the database? page.


To view the special collections you need to visit the University's Headington Library. The majority of the special collections are kept in the Special Collections Reading Room and registration is required in order to access the room. The Reading Room has walk-in access Mon-Thu 13.00-17.00 and Fri 13.00-16.30 during semester. An appointment is required to use the Reading Room Mon-Fri 9.00-13.00 during semester, and Mon-Fri 9.00-17.00 during vacation.


In general, electronic original documents or digital copies of material within the collections cannot be viewed remotely. For users unable to visit the Library, it may be possible to purchase photocopies or scans of items. Details of our copying service are available here.

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