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French Language and Literature: Finding books

This guide aims to provide an introduction to essential library and electronic resources for French studies at Oxford

Some useful links

As well as the resources mentioned above there are some other useful links that may be of help to you throughout your time at Oxford

How to locate books

The Tayorian Research Collection and the Taylorian Teaching Collection:

Undergraduates:  In order to locate books on the shelves you will need to find out the shelfmark by looking your title up on SOLO.   When you have looked up your title you can go to the shelves in the Modern Languages Teaching Collection if a copy is available there. 

There are different ways of referring to to the Teaching Collection.  At one time it was called the Modern Languages Faculty library or MLF.  Some people might refer to it as the Undergraduate Collection. 

If you cannot find a copy in the Teaching Collection and if the Taylor has a copy you can go to the Research Collection of the Taylor Institution Library upstairs.  You may browse in the Research Collection (also known as 'The stacks' and take books for borrowing but may not use desks for studying as study space is very limited in the stacks.

Graduates: Provided you are registered, you may go straight to the Research Collection.  You may also borrow from the Teaching Collection.


All:  Remember that the SOLO catalogue gives you access to French books and books about French literature in other languages in all the libraries in Oxford that have French books, periodicals and newspapers.  It includes both the collections at the Taylor Institution Library,  the Bodleian Library, Maison Francaise and a number of college libraries.

The Taylorian classification schemes explained:

There are several classification schemes in the Taylor.  New books in the Research collection and  the undergraduate collection are classified according to a standard version of the LC classification scheme used across all  the Bodleian libraries. LC French shelfmarks begin with the letters PC (for French language) and PQ (for French literature). Older books in both collections are classified according to in-house schemes. Typically these shelfmarks begin with two letters separated by a forward slash ie a A/A, L/N etc. For more information about the French shelfmarks both old and new schemes look at the complete lists in the top left-hand corner of this page (Classification schemes)..

If you come across a shelfmark in the SOLO catalogue beginning TNR or REP. SLAV, this means that the book is kept out at the Bodleian Library Storage Facility (BSF) and you will have to do a stack request.  As more and more books are stored off-site this is becoming increasingly common but doing a stack-request is not difficult.  See SOLO help-pages (Look under the 'Searching and ordering' tab and scroll down to 'How do I order from the closed stacks'). The good news is that if you order in the morning the book will be here in the afternoon.  If you order in the afternoon it will be here early the following morning.

Other catalogues

If you cannot find the book on SOLO, you could try looking for it on Library Hub Discover which is a union online catalogue of UK national, academic and specialist libraries. Incidentally, it used to be known as COPAC.

Going even further afield, WorldCat covers libraries throughout the world and includes millions of records representing 400 languages.  Worldcat is to be found in Databases A-Z. This is the librarians' favourite catalogue because it is so comprehensive so why don't you give it a try?

KVK (Karlsruher virtueller Katalog) is another union catalogue covering academic and national libraries throughout Europe and beyond.

If you cannot find a particular text in Oxford - particularly an older one ie 19th century and earlier -  you may sometimes be able to find it in full-text on an electronic library such as Gallica. This is the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) and gives access to over 90,000 items of printed material (books, periodicals, newspapers etc).

If you think the book you are looking for might be in a regional library in France you could try the French union catalogue:  Catalogue collectif France.  This catalogue incidentally subsumes the BnF catalogue which can also be searched on its own through the BnF website. However, why not try the Catalogue collectif de France - you might discover something that you had no idea that it existed!