Skip to main content

SOLO - Search Oxford Libraries Online: Advanced search

Help, feedback & workshops

Trying to find SOLO?

Chat to a Librarian:

chat loading...

Email a Librarian:  Use our Ask an Oxford librarian service.  Alternatively for detailed help with searching in your subject area please contact your subject librarian.

SOLO workshops - Book a place at our Getting Started workshop.

Items which are not held in Oxford? - If you wish to use an item which is not held in Oxford, it may be possible to request an interlibrary loan

Catalogue errors - Please report any errors or correctionsto the Bibliographic Maintenance Team.

SOLO Feedback - Please use the SOLO feedback form to tell us what you think about the interface and the general SOLO user experience.

Advanced searching

The SOLO standard search screen is sufficient for most searches.  However, the Advanced Search includes some extra facilities which enable you to:

  • Combine searches in several different fields at once (for example specify an author's name and a title). This is particularly useful when you are searching for a famous work and wish to avoid commentaries on that work).
  • Limit your search to a particular date range
  • Limit your search by language or material type
  • Search by publication date, publisher and place of publication > for more detailed information see the guide to Early printed books.
  • Search copy specific notes (i.e. details about specific copies of the work) > for more detailed information see the guide to Early printed books

Using Advanced Search

Click Advanced Search (to the right of the main search box)

Use the drop down menus on the left to specify the author, title, subject, publication date, place of publication, publisher or copy specific notes etc. Don't forget that you can use ? to stand in for a letter or number if you're not sure of a spelling or date (e.g. e.g. q?een? finds queen, qveen, queene, qveene. Likewise 159? finds 1590, 1591, 1592 etc up to 1599)

SOLO screen shot showing advanced search

The options on the right of the screen allow you to specify:

  • Publication dates and range - The Publication Date option at the top of the right hand menu is limited to any year, last year, last 2 yearslast 5, 10, 20 and 80 years. To search for a specific year use the publication date option in the drop down menus on the left (as explained above) or to search within a date range use the Start Date / End Date options (see screen shot below)> For more detailed information about searching using  date ranges see the guide to Early printed books
  • Material type (e.g. book, journal, score etc)
  • Language
  • Library

SOLO screen shot showing Advanced search options

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.