Advanced search

Discover provides an advanced search form, allowing you to limit your search in a variety of different ways. You can access the advanced search form here, or by clicking the 'More search options' link underneath the search box on the main search page.

Basic details

Use the fields at the top of the form to enter details of the material(s) you are looking for, such as author, title or publisher.


  • ISBN, ISSN, ISMN: You can enter more than one ISBN (International Standard Book Number - for books), ISSN (International Standard Serial Number - for journals and periodicals) or ISMN (International Standard Music Number - for printed music) in the standard number field, and you will get results for all of the numbers entered. Separate these numbers with a space, but not a comma.
  • Year published: You can enter a single year in the 'Year Published' field, or a range, e.g.:

    1455-1501 (for materials published between 1455 and 1501 inclusive)

    1455- (for materials published after, but including, 1455)

    -1501 (for materials published up to, and including, 1501)

    The publication date can sometimes result in unexpected records being found in your search results. For example, a journal record may have a date of 1855 for the first issue, but no end date to say that it has ceased publication. In this situation the journal would be retrieved for any search that includes a date from 1855 to the current year - assuming the record matches your other search criteria (eg. title words).
  • Subjects: The 'Subject' field allows you to search for records containing the subjects you enter in the specific subject fields within the bibliographic records. It is worth noting that not all of the records sent to us have subjects added in this way, so a subject search will not show you all of the records in the database related to a particular subject, and you may find it helpful to supplement it with further searches trying different strategies. The 'Keywords' field will search for your terms in fields across the record, not just in the specific subject fields.
  • Keywords: You can include more than one term in the 'Keywords' field - your search will return records which contain all of the given keywords. If you wish to search for an exact phrase, use double quotation marks, e.g.:

"red morocco binding"

Further options

Using the option boxes further down the form, you can also limit your search by document type and format; language; holding library and region.

Note: You do not need to fill in all section of the form.

For each of these options, click on an item in the list on the left-hand side to add it to your search. It will move to the list on the right-hand side. To remove it, click on the item in the list on the right-hand side. It will move back to the list on the left. You can add as many options as you wish for each of these parameters to your search query.

For the language and library options, you can select all of the items in the list using the 'Select All' button. You can then remove single items by clicking on them in the list on the right-hand side. This offers a quicker way of selecting a long list of values.

For the language and library options, you can also search for an item in the list by beginning to type a name into the search field at the top of the box.

The region option will limit your search to the holdings of all contributing libraries within that region.

You can collapse and expand any of these option boxes using the blue arrow button above the box next to the option name.

Library and Branch Library search

In the Library list, any library preceded by > has multiple branch libraries. You can expand the library name to view the branches eg. all the individual college libraries within the University of Oxford.

  • To search the whole of a library's catalogue select the name of the library, eg. University of Oxford – this will move to the right of the screen and will be included in your search. This search will include all branches of that library.
  • To view the list of branches select the > this will open the branch list. You can now select individual branch libraries. Any branch selected will move to the right of the screen and be included in your search.
  • If you change your mind about something you have chosen, select the name of the library or branch on the right of the screen. This will return to the left and won't be included in your search.
  • In the right hand column you can select > next to one of your chosen libraries. This lets you remove individual branches if you want to do that. Simply select the branch and it will move to the left and be removed from your search.
  • If a library name appears in italics on the right of the screen it means you have only selected a subset of branches from that library, so your search will only look for records in the selected branches, it will not include the full catalogue for that library.

If you want to limit your search to one or more specific libraries you can search within the Library list to identify the libraries you want. Eg. at the top of the Libraries list where it says ‘Search libraries…’ if you enter the word ‘city’ this will find both a Library, ‘City, University of London’ and one of the Northumbria University branches called ‘City Campus Library’. You can now choose one or more of the libraries and/or branches you have identified, these will be moved to the right of the screen and included in your Discover search. When you enter a word in the 'Search libraries...' box an 'X' will appear at the right hand side of the box, you can use this to delete your terms quickly if you wish. This will reinstate the full list of libraries for you to choose from.

Note: Because we merge records from multiple institutions, restricting your search to a sub-set of libraries means all the records found will include one or more of your chosen libraries, but the records may also show other holding libraries that have the same materials in their collection.

Keyboard navigation

You can navigate the search options using your keyboard.

  • Use Tab and shift Tab to move forward and backwards between different sections of the search screen.
  • In the selection lists (eg. Language) use up and down arrows to move within the list.
  • Press the space bar or the ‘enter’ key on an item within a list to select or deselect that item.
  • In the Library list use the right arrow to expand a library and see the branches. Once the branch list is open the left arrow first takes you back to the name of the library, selecting the left arrow for a second time will close the branch list.