How to use the catalogue?

Browse the collection

You can browse our collection by visiting the collection browser page. This page allows you to browse all the collections and items we hold. You may find it easier to find an item by using the search, see below for details on how to use the search.

There are two main ways to search the catalogue, simple and advanced searching.

Simple search

A simple search can be made using the basic search box at the top right hand corner of the home page.

This is a simple ‘any text search’. You can type in words or numbers. The search will look in all the fields in the catalogue to find matches.Where more than one word is entered the default is an AND search. This means that the catalogue will search for records that contain all of the words you have entered.

The simple search is useful for a basic search. If you are looking for something specific or if you want to reduce the number of items found then you may need to use the advanced search.

Advanced search

You can make an advanced search by visiting the advanced search page.

The advanced search enables you to choose and combine fields to search in. You can be more precise about the results that you get from your search. In the advanced search you can search the following fields.

  • Any text
  • FindingNo
  • Author
  • Title
  • Date
  • Level
  • Type
  • Place
  • Subject

Refine search criteria

The search fields ‘Any text’ ‘Author’ and ‘Title’ give you the option to ‘refine search criteria’. If you use this option you can change the default search criteria. There are three ways to refine the search option:

With all the words
With at least one of the words
Without the words

Any text

This field works in the same way as a simple search.


‘FindingNo’ is an abbreviation of ‘Finding Number,’ which is the unique number you will need when ordering documents. For archives this is the archival reference number and for books it is the class number of the book.

If you already know the FindingNo for a collection or item you can use it here.


Enter either full name or surname to search for author.


Enter the title of item here to search the title field of entries in the catalogue. This is useful for searching for the titles of books in the local studies collection.


Enter the date or date range of what you are looking for. The catalogue understands various date formats. However, the simplest way to narrow your search is to enter a year or range of years. You can use days and months, but note that all months must be abbreviated to the first three letters of the month eg. 5 Jan 1782.


This option allows you to search for different levels in an archive collection such as ‘collection’, ‘section’, ‘series’, ‘item’ or ‘piece’. You can select a level by using the arrow in the right hand side of the box and using the drop down menu. This option is most helpful for searching for summaries of collections and excluding individual documents. For example, choosing ‘collection’ will allow you to browse the collections. Choosing ‘item’ will find records of individual items that you can order up and view.


This uses a controlled list of place names. Records will only be found when they have been indexed using a place name term. All summary descriptions of collections have been indexed to place name. This option is helpful if you want to search for significant collections of records for a particular place.


This uses a controlled list of subject terms. Records will only be found when they have been indexed using a subject term. All summary descriptions of collections have been indexed using a subject term.


This option helps you search for a local studies book by selecting Local Studies/Book. This is the way that you can just search for a book without also searching the archive collections..

Booking a viewing

You can simply drop-in to the research room but to ensure that you have a seat and avoid disappointment we recommend you book online. Visit the book a viewing page for more information.

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