Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why can't I find what I'm looking for?

    Searching will only find exact matches in the catalogue so if you don't find anything the first time try searching for words with similar meanings. You can also visit our How do I search the database? page for tips on searching.

    If you are interested in a particular collection find it on the Collections A-Z page, click on 'View record' and then browse the collection by clicking on the 'TreeRef' number. Some of our collections only have collection level descriptions, if this is the case contact us with your enquiry and Special Collections staff can check the collection for relevant material before you make a visit.

    If you are interested in our book collections, these are catalogued on the main library catalogue which is searchable here.

  • I've found an item I'm interested in, how can I see more items in the same collection?

    If you click on the 'TreeRef' number the ‘Hierarchy Browser’ will open and you can browse all the catalogue entries in that collection using the + and - buttons. To view a record's catalogue entry click on its title.

  • How do I search within a collection?

    To search within a collection you need to know the DocRef for the collection as a whole. The Doc Refs for our main archive catalogues are as follows:

    Booker Prize Papers: BP
    Dorset House Archive: DH
    Oxford Brookes University Archive: OBU
    Papers of Sarah King: SK

    When you’ve found the Doc Ref for the collection you’re interested in go to the Advanced Search page and type it into the Doc Ref field. Now you can enter your search terms using the other fields and you will only get results from that collection. For example if you type 'BP' into the Doc Ref field and ‘photograph’ into the AnyText field your results table will show all records within the Booker Prize Papers that include photographs.

  • I came to look at the Booker Prize Papers several years ago and I have the reference numbers of the items I looked at but the numbers on the online catalogue are different. How can I find the records again?

    If you used the Booker Prize Papers before 2008 the reference numbers you have will be from the old numbering system. You can find the corresponding up to date catalogue entries using the Advanced Search page. Type your old reference number into the OldRefNo field and click the Search button. Your search results will include all the records which relate to that number. Often the old reference number now refers to more than one record as the arrangement of the catalogue has changed. Note down the DocRef and Title of the records and use these to request to view the items in the Reading Room.

  • Where is the Library?

    The Library can be found on the University’s Headington Campus. Maps and travel advice are available here. The entrance to the Library is located on the first floor of the Library building.

  • What are the opening hours?

    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-Fri 13.00-17.00 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. Semester dates can be found here.

    A few of the collections are available as reference collections in the main Library building. Library opening hours are regularly updated on the website.

  • How do I contact the Library to make an appointment?

    The contact details for the Library and the Special Collections Reading Room are as follows:

    Special Collections
    Headington Library
    Headington Campus
    Gipsy Lane
    OX3 0BP

    Library Enquiries Tel: 01865 483156
    Special Collections Tel: 01865 484139
    Library website:

    Please supply your name, contact details, the name of the collection(s) you are interested in, and an indication of when you would like to visit.

  • Are there any rules I have to follow when using the collections?

    Library regulations and Special Collections regulations can be found on the webpages.

  • How do I request an item in the Reading Room?

    When you’ve found an item you’re interested in and have come to the Special Collections Reading Room (see above for details of our location, opening hours and registration procedure) you will need to fill out an Archive Room Request Form for each item. You need to know the DocRef and Title of the item to fill in the form and if you wish to request more than one item a separate form must be completed for each one. When you have filled in the form, pass it to the member of staff on duty who will retrieve the item for you.

  • Can I purchase photocopies or scans?

    Yes, subject to the condition and size of the item in question, and subject to UK copyright law and all copyright licences held by the University. Details of our copying service are available here.

    Please note that permission will need to be obtained from the copyright holder if you wish to publish copies of any material held by the Library. Special Collections' staff will not make copies for publication without the copyright holder's written permission.

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