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SOLO - Search Oxford Libraries Online (Classic): Finding a specific book or e-book

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Finding a specific book or e-book (introduction)

The easiest way to search SOLO is to enter title keywords and/or author names in the standard search box on the SOLO home page.  This will be sufficient to find the vast majority of books and e-books.

The guidance in the video tutorial below (and the text instructions that follow) advise on optimizing use of this standard search box

In some cases you may prefer to browse alphabetical indexes of authors,  titles  or subjects or to use the advanced search screen. The latter is particularly useful if you wish to specify a publication date, place of publication or publisher. > instructions on: browsing SOLO's alphabetical indexes  | SOLO advanced search

Finding a specific book or e-book

> View video in a larger window and at higher resolution (uses Flash).   Prefer to read text? - there is a text version beneath the video.

Finding a specific book or e-book

Searching SOLO using the standard search box

First, make sure that you have selected the Oxford Collections tab.  This covers books, e-books, journals (by journal title), theses, research papers, audio-visual materials and other items in Oxford Libraries.

In most cases you will be able to find an item by entering keywords such as the title and/or author's name in the search box e.g.
SOLO screen shot showing standard author title search

You may also add other bibliographic details such as editors, translators, publishers, publication date, place of publication, ISBN, ISSN or shelfmark. However, in most cases entering an author's name and title keywords is sufficient.

If you are unsure of a spelling or date you can use the wildcard ?  e.g. Gr?y  finds Grey and Gray and 176? finds 1760, 1761, 1762 etc.

Using an * at the end of a word will find alternative word endings e.g. child* finds child, children, childish, childs, childishly etc

SOLO screen shot showing use of ? and *

The drop down menus beneath the search box can be used to make your search more specific and are particularly useful if your initial search returns too many results.

The first drop down menu allows you to specify a particular resource type e.g. theses, books, journals, images, audio visual, databases, music scores, maps etc

SOLO screen shot showing the material type drop down menu

The second drop down menu allows you to specify that you want to search for my exact phrase or for works which start with... Both of these options will narrow down your search results substantially and are very useful if you get too many results on your first attempt. For example searching for "history of medieval Europe" as an exact phrase will return items with this exact phrase but not items where these words appear in a different order. Likewise searching for "history of medieval europe" will only return results which start with these words.

SOLO screen shot showing 2nd drop down menu

The third drop down menu allows you to limit your search to author, title, subject, ISBN etc. This is particularly useful when you are looking for works by a famous author as it will only return items by that author, not items about the author.

SOLO screen shot showing limiting your search by author, title, subject etc

You can also limit your search to a particular library, to online resources only or to open shelf collections using the drop down menu adjacent to the search box.  

SOLO screen shot showing limiting your search to a particular library or to online resources only

Refining your results

You can narrow down your list of results using the options that run down the left hand side of your results list. These allow you to restrict your search to Online or Physical items only or to refine your search by limiting your results by Topic, Library, Language, Creation Date (i.e. publication date), Creator (authors) or Resource type (e.g. book, audio visual).   

For each category (for example Topic or Library) SOLO displays a small number of options.  Clicking on one of these will narrow down your results list accordingly.  However, for a wider range of options click Refine Further. This will display the full list of options, allow you to select more than one option at a time and enable you to refine your search by excluding items as well as including them.

Including and Excluding

If you choose to include an option, your results list will be refined so that it only includes items that meet your criteria. For example, if you searched for "veterinary medicine" and chose the include option "cats" you would only see items in your results list that relate to cats. When using the include options, it is important to think carefully about alternative words that may be used. For example if you are interested in veterinary medicine for cats, it is worth clicking the include option for "pets" and "domestic animals" as well as cats to be sure that you cover everything that is relevant.

You may also use the refine options to exclude particular criteria.   This will remove items with the topics or other refinements that you have chosen.     For example in a search for "veterinary medicine" excluding "zoo animals", "agriculture" and "livestock" will ensure that items on these topics will not appear in your results. However, you should always be careful when using exclude options.    For example, if you are interested in cats, excluding dogs would be unwise because many books cover both cats and dogs.     When you exclude an option this will always override anything that you have included, so even if you have ticked to include cats, if you've excluded dogs, you will not see items which are about both cats and dogs!

It is particularly important to avoid using the "Exclude" option when refining by Library.   This is because if an item is held in a number of libraries and you choose to exclude one of them, you will not see the item at all, even though it is also available in other libraries that you have chosen to include.  For example, if you choose to include the English Faculty Library but to exclude the Bodleian, all items which are held by the Bodleian will be excluded (even if they are also held in the English Faculty Library).  To refine your search by library you are advised to use the “include” option but not “exclude”.

Removing refinements

Once you have applied a refinement to your search, the refinement will be displayed at the top of the results. If you decide that you don’t want the refinement to apply, click on the cross next to it.

Re-sorting your results

Your search results will be sorted by relevance.  You can change the sort order to date-newest, date-oldest, author, title or popularity using the Sorted by menu above your search results.

SOLO screen shot showing sort options

Viewing and choosing different versions of a work

SOLO attempts to bring different "versions" of the same work together.  For example, it will try to bring together different editions of the same work and also editions in different formats (for example print, electronic and audio-video).  For example, in the screen shot below, SOLO has found 60 editions of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

When SOLO has grouped items together in this way, you will see the note Multiple versions found. To view the versions click view all n versions

 SOLO screen shot showing versions

When you click "view all n versions" you will see a list of items.  By default these items will be sorted by relevance.   If you are looking for the most recent or oldest edition of a text please change the sort order to Date-newest or Date-oldest.  However, if you are looking for a specific edition (for example with a particular editor, translator, publisher or date) it is usually best to keep the sort order set to relevance

Looking for a specific edition within a large set of versions

If you are looking for a specific edition (for example with a particular editor, translator, publisher or date):

1.  Ensure that the additional information is included in the search box. For example, if you were searching for the edition of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, edited by Edward Copeland, you would need to include Copeland in the search as follows:

SOLO screen shot showing searching for a specific edition by adding the editor's name

2.  When viewing the set of versions make sure that the sort order is set to relevance. This will ensure that the items which most closely match you search criteria (i.e. those edited by Copeland) appear at the top of your results and that other editions which do not include all of your search criteria sink to the bottom. If you change the sort order, this advantage will be lost and the Copeland edition may well appear in the middle of your results.

 SOLO screen shot showing sorting versions by relevance to ensure best result comes to the top of the list

Finding out which libraries hold a physical/printed book

To find out which Libraries hold a physical item click Find & Request.

You will see a list of Libraries that hold the item.  

  • Click on the + next to a library to check availability and to see the shelfmark
  • Click on the i button next to a library to view information about the library such as opening times and to find out whether you are entitled to use the library or not.

Screen shot of SOLO showing find and request options
In some cases, you may find that the item is kept in the Closed Stack.    Where this is the case you will need to order the item to be delivered to a library or reading room for you to read. To do this place a Hold. To learn more about placing a Hold see Requesting items from the closed stacks

Connecting to an e-book

To connect to an e-book click View Online.

SOLO screen shot showing "View online" to connect to an ebook

In nearly all cases you will then be taken directly to the e-book.  The functionality available to you within the e-book will vary depending on the supplier and format. For guidance in this area please see the e-books guide.  

Finding other items on the same subject

Once you have found a book on your topic, you can use it to find other similar titles which may be useful to your research. There are two main ways of doing this:

  1. Use Subject Headings to initiate a subject search in SOLO
  2. Use the Browse Related Titles option

Using Subject Headings to find similar items

Using subject heading can be a powerful way of finding items which are relevant to you in SOLO.

1.  Click Details & Links

Screen shot of details tab showing subject headings

2.  Scroll down to find the Subjects section. This lists the subjects associated with the item.    The subjects are drawn from a classified list called The Library of Congress Subject Headings and are assigned to each item when it is added to the Library.    To find other items on the same subject simply click on one of the links.  This will initiate a new subject search in SOLO for you chosen topic. Please note

  • Most books will have more than one subject heading. However, unfortunately you can only click on one subject heading at a time. In order to carry out a thorough search you may need to repeat the process for each relevant subject heading
  • You can also use the subject headings to "guess" what the subject headings might be for a related subject. For example, in the screen shot above the first subject heading is "Public opinion - - Great Britain --20th century".  From this, you might guess that the same subject for France might be "Public opinion - - France --20th century" or the subject heading for the 19th century might be "Public opinion - - Great Britain --19th century"
  • It is also possible to browse Library of Congress subject headings.  This can be a very effective way of exploring a topic. For more information see Browsing SOLO indexes

Finding similar titles using the Browse Related Titles option

The Browse Related Titles option displays a selection of titles which are similar to your original item.  This is a more serendipitous approach to finding related items which is a bit like browsing library shelves. 

Screen shot showing Browse Related Titles option

Please note:

  • Browse Related Titles is NOT comprehensive as this functionality only covers a small part of Oxford's book collections. 
  • Occasionally the search may return items which do not appear to be related to your search.  This is due to the way in which the Library of Congress classification system works in some subject areas.