November 29th, 2011

The Bodleian Libraries have been converting the catalogues of their vast holdings of library research collections into electronic form, and discoverable via the web, for over 30 years. The vast bulk of the catalogues of printed books and journals in western European languages have now been converted, but immense ‘hidden’ collections still remain within the Bodleian’s stacks, discoverable only by researchers able to visit Oxford in person. These hidden collections fall for the most part within the Bodleian’s Department of Special Collections[1] and are known and used by large numbers of scholars in Oxford and beyond who are familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the various manual catalogues and able to come to Oxford with enough time to plan and execute their research projects in situ.

With the patterns of research activity changing and with scholars now increasingly expecting to plan their research in advance of their library visits, when they are unable to consult materials themselves online through digital surrogates, the Bodleian’s approach to these hidden collections has to change.

The main catalogue of the Bodleian Libraries has been in existence in electronic form for 20 years. The Bodleian’s online catalogue, known as OLIS (Oxford Libraries Information System), now has 11 million records for the Bodleian and for over 40 other libraries in Oxford, and has become an increasingly sophisticated search and discovery tool for more than just the physical holdings of the Library.

During the past two years the Bodleian has added a resource discovery layer, SOLO (Search Oxford Libraries Online) to its OPAC, using the ExLibris technology Primo[2]. This provides faceted searching and browsing, and unified resource discovery for OLIS, ORA (the Oxford institutional repository), and for journal articles (through Primo Central), and digital images (eg from Luna databases).

[1] See

[2] See

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