How Do I Search the Database?

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 record's 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 the DocRef, Title, Description, and Administrative History fields.


  • 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.

Sorting Your Results

If you use the Quick or Advanced Searches, a list of search results that match your criteria will display. You can sort your results by clicking on the column headings and can choose how many results display on one page using the drop down box on the right hand side. To see more information about a result, click on it and you will be taken to the full record description. To go back to your list of search results click on ‘Back to Search Results’ at the bottom of the page or use the back button in your browser.

Browsing the Collection

Once you have found a description that you are interested in, you can view where that description sits in the collection as a whole. Click on the ‘TreeRef’ link to open up a diagram of the catalogue structure. This will allow you to browse the whole collection and find related items. The description you originally viewed will be highlighted in yellow. Click on the plus signs to display more of the catalogue, or click on the minus signs to minimise parts of the catalogue. Some collections are only described at ‘collection-level’ and will therefore only have one general description so no catalogue structure will be available for browsing.

Searching within a collection

It is possible to search within a specific collection. To do this 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

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.

Booker Prize Papers old reference numbers

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.

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