Help (Find books, articles and more)

Use Library Search to discover the Library's printed and online collections, together with millions of scholarly e-resources all at the same time.

Quick start

  • Simply type one or more words into the search box
  • To search for words as a phrase, type quotation marks around the phrase, eg "climate change"
  • Use our Search tips below if you are not finding the results you had hoped for, or are retrieving too many or too few results

Additional advice and support

What am I searching?

Library Search is the gateway to the Library's collection of books, journals, DVDs, etc., both printed items and online resources such as ebooks and ejournal articles. You can also use Library Search to search the collections of other libraries that have contributed their holdings to WorldCat, the database that underpins the service.

The default search is set to 'University of Bristol Library', though if you would like to expand your search to include other libraries holdings use the 'Libraries Worldwide' facet on the left-hand side of the results screen.

The 'Advanced search' functionality will allow you to undertake a more targeted search, within specifc indexes and databases that the Library provides access to. Please note: For comprehensive searches for articles in your subject area, we recommend that you use the recommended databases for your particular subject, which may also provide more powerful search facilities.

Search tips

  • When searching for a title, remove any punctuation between words first (such as ; : ?)
  • Find the exact sequence of search words by enclosing them in quotation marks; e.g. "global warming"
  • Use an * (asterisk) for truncation, eg climat* (for climate, climates, climatology, etc) or math* (for maths, mathematics, etc)
  • Use a # (number sign) as a single character wildcard; e.g. wom#n (for woman or women)
  • Library Search assumes you are searching for items with all the words you type in unless AND  OR or NOT are specified between the words and phrases

Searching for a particular book?

  • Try searching for the author's last name and one or more significant title words; e.g. orwell farm
  • If you know the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) of the book, you can search for this (without hyphens, eg, 0751400785). If you do not find a result try a keyword search to double check
  • If you are trying to locate a book chapter, search for the title and/or the author/editor of the whole book
  • If you only know the title, try entering a few title words - entering a full long title is usually unnecessary

Searching for books on a particular subject?

  • Try searching with one or more keywords; e.g, history england or history engl* or "english history". If your search finds too many results, consider adding further subject keywords or use the facets on the left-hand side of the results screen to limit your search by e.g., format, topic, year, etc.
  • After doing any search, if you click on an item record and scroll down to the bottom, there is an option to 'Browse the shelf'. This option will display books grouped together by shelfmark and will show you items on related topics.

Searching for books by a particular author?

  • Try searching with full parts of the name (initials will not work); e.g. stephen hawking

Searching for a particular journal

Try searching or browsing our A to Z list of titles

Searching for journal articles?

  • For general searches, simply type one or more words into the Library Search box. Depending on your search the results may contain records for journal articles. Use the 'Article' filter, under 'Format' (left-hand side of screen) to view only the articles
  • It is also possible to search for a known journal article using title, author, date and page information and where known, identifier information such a DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

Trying to find other library materials, such as a thesis, DVD, or eBook?

  • If you are only interested in particular types of materials, perform your search and then filter your results by 'Format' on the left-hand side of the screen; e.g., Book, eBook, Print book, Article, DVD video, Thesis/Dissertations

Using your results

Below each search result you will find location and availability information for print resources held in our libraries. For direct access to online resources you will find a variety of buttons, e.g.,  View Online, View eBook, View Full-text, Access journal depending on the format of the resource.

Sorting and filtering results

  • By default your search results are sorted according to their relevance to Library holdings, though you can change the way results are sorted by using the 'Sorted by' dropdown menu at the top right of the search results screen. The various options are described in the table below.
Sort option Behaviour
Best Match (default option) Blends Title, Author, Date and Worldwide Holdings with an emphasis placed on Title.
Recency Blends Date, Title, Author and Worldwide Holdings with an emphasis placed on Date.
Library Considers individual holdings first, then blends Title, Author, Date and Worldwide Holdings.
Author (A to Z) Sorts by special characters or numbers in the first name, then A to Z by last name.
Date (Newest) Sorts chronologically by publication date with newest items listed first.
Date (Oldest) Sorts chronologically by publication date with oldest items listed first.
Most Widely Held Presents an "unclustered" view of search results with an emphasis on Worldwide Holdings in a blend of Date, Title, and Author. Use this sort option to view best results for interlibrary loan requests.
Title Sorts by special characters, then alphabetically by Title. Only the article "the" is ignored.
  •  When search results display, you will see various options (or filters) on the left-hand side of the screen that allow you to limit your search by 'Library', 'Format', 'Author', 'Year', 'Topic' etc.

Group related editions (filter)

The Library Search database employs a method of grouping the various manifestations of a work, e.g., a record for a 1st edition, another record for a second edition and other records for a translation, an ebook, a print book, an audio recording, etc. The search results screen will normally show one record that represents the entire group and this will usually be the record for the most recent edition owned by the University of Bristol. You can uncheck the 'Group related editons' box at the top left of the screen, under 'Search Tools' to see all the separate records.

Save searches

You can reproduce search queries repeatedly by saving a search to your account. To save searches you need to sign in to your account first. Having signed in:

  • Perform a search with your desired criteria
  • From the search results screen, click 'Save this search' (top left of screen under 'Search Tools')
  • Confirmation of the saved search appears
  • Click 'Save' (please note: a limit of 100 searches can be saved)
  • To view your saved searches, click on 'Saved Searches' in the banner or click on the drop-down associated with your account and select 'My Saved Searches'

Create and save a personal list of records

After you have done a search it is possible to add individual records or items to a list, though please note this list of items are stored temporarily for the session until the session times out. In order to create and save a 'personal' list on a more permanent basis:

  • Search for the items you would like to include in a list
  • Click the Save icon to add the record to the list
  • When finished, click 'My Items' (upper right corner of screen) to display the list
  • Click on the 'Create List' icon
  • Provide a List Name (required) and List Description (optional)
  • Select a Privacy preference
    • Shared - a permalink is generated for others to view, site and share the list. Changes to the list are updated in realtime after the page is refreshed
    • Private - the default value, no permalink is created and the list is only visible to its creator (this option can be changed after the list has been saved. If a Shared list is changed to Private, the list content automatically becomes inaccessible to anyone with the original permalink)
  • Click 'Save'

Sign in

Sign in to Library Search to reserve printed items that are out on loan to other users, to request items from our Research Reserve and to make inter-library loans requests. Also sign-in to access your Library Account (see below for more information) and to save searches and personal lists of records (see above for more information).

Sign in when prompted or via the link in the top right-hand corner of the Library Search screen.

Students and staff (including honorary staff) - when prompted choose 'University of Bristol Library users' and from there you will be taken to the University's single sign-on page where you will input your University username & password:

  • UoB username, e.g., ab1234 (undergraduates, some postgraduates) or lwabc (staff, some postgraduates)
  • UoB password, i.e., the password you use with your University username

External users (including UoB graduates, former UoB staff, Sconul Access scheme for students and staff from other universities, individual memberships, etc.) - when prompted choose 'External users of the Library' and input your Library username & password respectively:

  • Library username, is given to external users at registration. For enquiries, please contact our Visitor Access
  • Library password, instructions on how to create a password have been given to external users. For enquiries, please contact our Visitor Access

My Library Account

Includes information about you and your use of the Library:

  • Contact information
  • Loans (aka checkouts) - a list of the items you have on loan and, particularly where items have been reserved by other users, the date on which items are due for return.
  • Holds (reservations) - a list of reservations you have made with the ability to cancel any that are no longer required
  • Charges (fines & fees) - information about your cash transactions, including replacement book and inter-library loan charges


For help or advice on accessing electronic resources, please email:

For subject-specific help, please see Subject Support.

For technical help, please contact the IT Service Desk.

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