Getting started: Undergraduates and taught postgraduates

A guide to using the Bodleian Libraries for undergraduates and taught postgraduates at the University of Oxford.

Welcome webinar

Watch our welcome webinar for new students.


Hello and welcome to this Bodleian Libraries Welcome for new undergraduate and visiting students. This is a recording of the welcome webinar that took place in Michaelmas term of the academic year 2023 to 2024. There will be a combination of PowerPoint presentation and live demonstration.

Moving on to what we'll be covering today and the learning outcomes. By the end of this video, you will understand the network of Bodleian Libraries, how to find items on your reading list, how to use the library Wi-Fi, PCs and printing, and where to get further help.

The Bodleian Libraries is a network of 26 libraries that has a central library for each division, as well as subject specific libraries. You can use any of the Bodleian libraries, though some require you to make an appointment. Just make sure you take your University card. Some departments also have their own libraries, for example, Earth Sciences. Each of the colleges has its own library too. Whilst you can use any of the Bodleian Libraries, you can only use the library in your college.

Let's move on to reading lists and how to find items on your reading lists. What is a reading list? It seems obvious, but it's a list of items created by lecturers and tutors for you to consult during your studies. It can have a range of items from books available in our libraries to online websites and more.

Where do you find your reading lists? Every course, department and college does things differently. Some tutors will email your reading list or put it in a handbook. Others will create an interactive online list in ORLO, which is an online reading list platform. Some will add the ORLO lists to their Canvas site. 

Some of you will receive more traditional lists in paper or PDF format. These will usually be presented in a particular citation style relevant to your subject. Important items will often be flagged with an asterisk or similar. The list will typically include books, book chapters and journal articles. 

It is useful to understand what a citation looks like so that you can more easily search for the item. Let's start by looking at a citation for a book. Book citations tend to be simple. In this case, the author's name is R Smith. The book title is Money and Power. The book was published in London by the publisher Routledge in 2012.

And now a chapter in a book. The chapter's author is A. Jones. The chapter title is Chemistry. The chapter is in a book edited by R. Kay. The book title is Sciences. Note that the chapter details come first. When searching for a chapter, you will need to search for the book title and author or editor. You cannot put this whole citation into a search and hope to specifically find the chapter. 

You will probably find that you are asked to read a journal article in your reading list. For an article, we will start with the author, which is D. Baldwin, in this case. Then we have the article title ‘Power Analysis’. Then we move on to the journal title ‘World Politics’. Note the volume and issue numbers near the end. These are a sign that you are looking at an article.

Sometimes journal titles on reading lists will be abbreviated. For example, the journal ‘General Pharmacology’ is abbreviated to ‘Gen Pharmacol’. If you need help looking up the full title of a journal from the abbreviation you've been given, ask a librarian for assistance.

ORLO is the tool that allows tutors to create online reading lists with live links to e-books and digitisations. It can be accessed through this link on the slide: You will need your Oxford Single Sign On to access ORLO.

I won't live demo ORLO as not all departments or tutors use it, but I will highlight some key functionalities. You can see live availability for books in libraries. You can click through easily to read online material. It may include content such as links to videos and websites. You can filter options, for example by week of term or ‘online only’ items. And you can express your reading intentions.

Let's move on to SOLO. As mentioned a moment ago, sometimes you will receive a reading list that does not have links that take you directly to the item you need to read, and you will need to search for the item yourself, like if you have a paper or PDF reading list. SOLO is the place to go to do that.

SOLO is the search and discovery tool for the major collections of Oxford University's libraries. You can search for books and journal articles in print and online, dissertations, special collections and more. The URL is on the slide: SOLO is a very powerful tool and I don't have time to show you everything it can do, so I'll be showing you the basics today.

To get the best results, sign into SOLO with your Single Sign On credentials. This means you will see more results, especially for online material, and you can access your account where you will see your loans and any requests you have placed, etc. I'm now going to move on to a live demonstration of SOLO.

To sign into SOLO, click the 'sign in' button in the top right of the screen. This is where you need to enter your Single Sign On credentials. Now that I am signed into SOLO, my name appears in the top right of the screen. I'm going to show you how to search for a specific item, in this case a book. Enter the title and author of the book into the search bar.

I am going to search for a book called ‘Beyond the Score’ by Cook. To submit the search, hit the enter button on your keyboard, or click the magnifying glass to the right of the search bar. If you get too many results, you can sort and filter in the pane on the left by resource type, publication date, language and more. Happily, the copy I'm looking for is the first result.

In the results screen, SOLO clusters together print and online copies of the same title as well as different editions of the same book. And this example, it says, 'Three versions of this record exist. See all versions'. Clicking this button will expand the list of versions clustered together. There are multiple versions available. Let's go through them. Two of the versions are e-books free for you to read on your device 24/7. You just need to click the green 'online access' button and then choose an option from the list under 'full text availability'.

I'm going to return to the previous screen by clicking the x button to the left. Scrolling down, the other item on the list is a print book available in a physical library. You click the 'find and request' button to see which libraries have the book. A new window will appear and SOLO lists the libraries that have at least one copy of the book. Click on the name of the library or the arrow button to the right to see further details of what is available in each library. Note that some libraries might have multiple copies of the same book. The Music Faculty is one of the Bodleian libraries, so all students can use this library. If we take a closer look, we see that the book has already been borrowed by someone else. It says 'in use' and isn't due back for a little while. You could request this copy and wait until it is your turn to borrow it from the Music Faculty Library. As I am signed into SOLO, it also tells you the book is loanable and it tells me how long I can borrow it for. In this case, seven days. 

However, let's just click on 'back to locations'. And then 'back to libraries' to see what our other options are. If you see your college listed, then you may be able to borrow the book from your college library. I'm going to select Christ Church Library. The copy at this library is available, as you can see from 'item in place'. You can also see how long you'll be able to borrow the book for. You will need to make a note of the shelf mark, also known as the call number. For this library it is ML 457 COO 2013. This will help you find the book on the shelf. Even if you see a 'request' option next to a book, it is much better to go to the library to fetch the book off the shelves yourself rather than waiting for other copies to be returned by other readers.

If all the items are on loan with none on the open shelves, you should place a request here. This is especially important for libraries that have auto renewals, which is the case with the Bodleian Libraries, as that is the way the current borrower will know they need to return it for another person. Remember though, that in this example, this copy of the book belongs to a college library, so only members of Christ Church can borrow it. If I click 'back to locations' and 'back to libraries', I will see the list of libraries that have this book available. If your college is not listed, there is another option available from the Bodleian Libraries. 
I'm going to click on 'Bodleian Offsite Storage'. As the name suggests, this is not a library that you can visit in person. There isn't enough room in the city for all the books the Bodleian Libraries own, so we have a warehouse outside of the city which stores more books. You will need to click 'request' and select a library for the book to be sent to for you to read.

A lot of books in the libraries can be borrowed but some cannot. This is one of the books that cannot be borrowed, so you will need to read it at the library you choose to have it sent to. You can see it says 'use in library only'. In this instance, as the item is 'use in library only', when we click ‘request’, we get to choose a list of delivery or pickup locations where we can 'read at'. If requesting an item that is loanable, it may only be available to borrow from certain locations, so make sure to look through the whole list of potential delivery locations.

I'm going to click 'back to items'. Alternatively, you can click 'scan & deliver' to get a PDF scan sent to you via email. This must be within copyright law, which normally means one chapter of a book. Both the scan and deliver and request services are free.

I'm now going to show you how to conduct a keyword search for when you do not have a particular title that you want to find and might be interested in browsing items on a particular topic. On the SOLO search screen enter some keywords. I am going to search for 'language cognition'. To submit your search, hit the enter button on your keyboard or click the magnifying glass button to the right of the search bar.

Browsing the results, I am interested in ‘Action Related Representations’. This is the second result. This is an open access e-book, which means it is freely available for anyone to read online 24/7. You can share it with your friends and family and no one needs to sign in to use it.

Scrolling down, I can also see the book ‘Ten Lectures on Language, Cognition and Language Acquisition’. This is the 16th result. In the results screen, SOLO clusters together print and online copies of the same title as well as different editions of the same book. In this example, it says 'Two versions of this record exist. See all versions'. Clicking this button will expand the list of versions clustered together. 

We have both print and online copies of this book. If we click on the green text 'online access' in the e-book record, we see that there are two e-book versions. These are some of the thousands of e-books that the University pays for. As a member of the university, you are able to read these copies online for free as long as you are on the university network, or if you are offsite by logging in with your Single Sign On. They are from different providers, which means the interfaces and access options will be different. Try them both and choose which you prefer. Some e-books have a limit on the number of readers who can access the book simultaneously. If you encounter one of these, try again later. This e-book offers unlimited access, as you can see on the screen. To escape the screen, click the x button to the left, which gets us back to the cluster of results for this title. I will now return to the main results list by clicking 'back to results list' at the top. 
Now that I am back in the main results screen, I am going to scroll down and look at the item ‘Critical Discourse Analysis and Language Cognition’ by O'Halloran. In this example is says 'Three versions of this record exist. See all versions'. Clicking that button will expand the list of versions clustered together. 

The middle copy says 'Electronic Legal Deposit item - available via Bodleian Libraries Reading room PCs only'. Items that say Electronic Legal Deposit have restrictions. They can only be read on library PCs and only one person can use them at a time. When you see one of these books or articles on SOLO, there may be an alternative and more easily accessible copy. If you can't see one, check with library staff. Here you can see an e-book and print copies clustered together with the Electronic Legal Deposit version. These alternatives are likely to be more useful to you.

I'm briefly going to show you how to search for a journal article. In the search screen, I'm going to search for an article by entering the article title and the surname of the first author of the article. I'm going to search for ‘Geophysical Evidence for Melt in the Deep Lunar Interior’. To submit your search, hit the enter button on your keyboard, or click the magnifying glass icon to the right of the search bar. Remember that journal citations include other information such as journal title and volume, issue and page numbers. Don’t use all this information for searching, but it can be useful to check back to the full reference to make sure that you have found the article you need in SOLO.

The top result is the article I'm looking for. You can tell it's an article as it says 'article' above the title. There are also other tell-tale signs, including that it details the journal title, volume and issue number. Articles will only come up in the results if we subscribe to an online version of the relevant journal. This means that it is good practice, if you don't immediately find the article you're looking for, to try and search the journal title. This will show you if we have physical copies which you could request a scan from. In this case, you would search for the journal title ‘Journal of Geophysical Research’ in case further options come up. Sometimes articles in journals we do subscribe to electronically do not appear in SOLO when you search for the article title. Again, this is a good reason to also try searching by journal title as opposed to article title.

Wrapping up this SOLO section, if you click your name in the top right of the screen, you can access My SOLO. Here you will see what you have on loan and you can renew books. You'll also see any requests you have made. You need to click your name in the top right of the screen to sign out of SOLO, which we encourage when you have accessed SOLO on a public computer.

If you need help with SOLO, at the top is a button which will take you through to our SOLO Help Guide. Also, we have the Live Chat window. Click the tab on the right to open a window where you can talk to a librarian and ask any questions you might have about finding things on SOLO or using the libraries. That concludes what I wanted to show you live in SOLO. 

I will now move on to summarising the best approach to getting hold of the books you need and letting you know how much you can borrow. Here are our recommended steps. It can be tempting to click on 'request' right away, but it'll always be quicker for you to actually go into a library to get the book off the shelves if there is a loanable copy in place. Therefore, your best course of action when looking for a book is:
1) to look for copies in your subject library and college library which show both 'Item in Place' and 'Loanable'.
2) if there are none, click 'Request' and look for a ‘Borrow From’ option in the list of delivery locations. A reminder that this is a copy on loan to someone else at the moment, but will be held for you when it is returned.
3) if there are no 'In Place' items and no 'Borrow From' options, then it is likely the only copy available to you is a copy from Offsite Storage. In this case, click 'Request' to order this one to a library or reading room of your choice so that you can read it there. If you do place a request for an item and then realise you no longer need it, do let the library know.

By now you'll be wondering how many books you can borrow at a time. The Bodleian Libraries have a shared lending policy across the 26 libraries. Typically, as an undergraduate, you will be able to borrow 20 items in total from across the Bodleian libraries. Most loans are for seven days. Some libraries have some short loan items as well. For example, three hours or two days. Your loans will automatically renew each week for a maximum of 112 days or 16 weeks unless someone else has requested the book. If you receive an 'item requested by another reader' notification, then please do your utmost to return the book by the due date shown in My SOLO so that the next person can use it. We don't charge fines, but if your books become overdue, then you will be blocked from borrowing from any of the Bodleian Libraries. For a full explanation of the loan policy, please see our website: Your college library will set its own limits on how much you can borrow and for how long. Check with your college librarian. 

Moving on to Wi-Fi, PCs, printing and passwords. The 26 Bodleian Libraries have lots of common services across them. All of the Bodleian Libraries have the same Wi-Fi available and the same process for using PCs and printing. The Wi-Fi is called Bodleian Libraries Wi-Fi, which you will be able to find on your phone or laptop. The university also has a Wi-Fi network called Eduroam, which is available in the libraries.

The Bodleian Libraries have the same desktop PCs across its sites, and the way you log in is the same across the board. Similarly, all the Bodleian Libraries have the same print, copy and scanning facilities, also known as PCAS. You can upload a print job into the cloud and collect from any of the PCAS machines in the Bodleian Libraries. Scanning is free and you can scan to a USB stick or email. There is a charge for printing and photocopying. 

What ties all these services together is the Bodleian Libraries username and password. You are all automatically given a Bodleian Libraries username and should have received information about this ahead of your arrival in Oxford. You can find further details at the URL:

You should have received information about your Oxford Single Sign On already, which you use to access your university emails and to log into SOLO. Please note, it is different to the Bodleian Libraries username and password.
Don't worry if you don't remember everything from today or if you have any questions during your time in Oxford. There are lots of ways you can get help at the Bodleian Libraries and friendly staff will be able to help. We have a Live Chat service. You can find the Live Chat boxes on the Bodleian Libraries website and on SOLO. The libraries have a knowledgeable central reader services team who you can contact with any enquiries: You can always ask for help at your subject library.

The Bodleian Libraries also has a dedicated Disability Librarian who coordinates a team of disability liaison librarians in each of the Bodleian libraries:

Thank you for watching this video.

Using the libraries at Oxford

Bodleian Libraries

The Bodleian Libraries is a network of 26 research, faculty and departmental libraries.

You can access any of the libraries and their physical collections using your University card, as well as extensive online resources.

Find a library

Other libraries at Oxford

These are small, specialist libraries, such as the Earth Sciences Library, which can only be used by members of a particular department. They may also be restricted to use by postgraduate students and staff.

Your faculty or department website will have more information 

College libraries

Each college has its own library, which will cover the subjects taught at that college and the research interests of the college’s Fellows.

Access is usually restricted to members of the college. Contact the relevant college librarian if you need more information or want to access material if you are not a college member.

Find a college library

Find resources

SOLO is the resource discovery tool for Oxford’s libraries. You can use it to search the resources held by the University of Oxford's libraries.

Our subject and research guides cover key resources across the subject areas taught at the University.

Read our guidance on understanding your reading list and using ORLO to access reading list material.

We also offer guides to finding different types of material:

Get resources

Our libraries hold many different kinds of material. This includes items you can borrow, items you can only use in the libraries and items you can access online.

Library services

The Bodleian Libraries offer a range of services and facilities to support your study and research, including library computers, Wi-Fi access, and self-service printing, copying and scanning.

Training and support

The libraries provide various in-person and online tools to help you study and research.


Not sure where to start? Use our live chat service to talk directly to library staff or send us an email.