Help using Digital Bodleian

Help using Digital Bodleian


Digital Bodleian contains digitized material from the special collections of the Bodleian Libraries, as well as some Oxford college libraries and a small amount of material from other University institutions. By default, searches will be made across all collections and institutions.

You can search using search terms, facets, or both. You can also used the Advanced Search form to construct more complex or precise queries.

  • Search terms search the descriptions of digitized objects, including Shelfmarks, Titles, People, Places, Languages, and descriptive information such as decoration, binding and provenance.
  • Facets constrain a search, and can be used in combination with or instead of keywords.
  • Advanced Search allows you to target searches to specific metadata fields, and construct complex queries.

Searching using search terms

Search terms match against the descriptions of digitized objects. Different objects have been described to different levels of detail, and not all descriptive fields are present for all items, so please be mindful that your search might not return all items relevant to your query. The most reliable terms to search on are Shelfmark, Title, Language, People, and Place of Origin. We recommend using facets to constrain your query where possible.

Digital Bodleian uses object descriptions from heterogenous sources, and person, place and work names are often not normalised, so the same entity might appear under several different names.

Searching using facets

The search facets can be used to constrain a search using controlled values. These can be used instead of or in combination with a search term. The facet types are:

  • Object type: the type of object or artefact, such as a manuscript, map or printed book.
  • Language: the language of textual content in an object, where recorded. Items can have more than one language value.
  • Origin: the geographic region of origin of an object, where known. At present, these are very broad categories. We hope to add more detailed information here in the future.
  • Date: the date of origin of an object, where known. The “from” and “to” boxes can be used to specify a date range. These values can also be set using the sliders. The histogram gives an approximate distribution of results between the selected dates.
  • Collection: the thematic collection an object belongs to. All objects will belong to a collection, and in a few cases, more than one.
  • Project: the digitization project an objected was digitized as part of, if it belonged to one.
  • Institution: the holding institution of the object. Digital Bodleian includes material not held by the Bodleian Libraries, such as material held by some Oxford colleges.
  • Fully digitized: Whether the object is a full or partial digitization of a physical item.
  • Has musical notation: Whether the object includes musical notation.

Selecting multiple values from a single category applies them as OR conditions. For example, selecting “Latin” and “Old English” would return all items with either Latin or Old English as a language value.

Selecting values across different categories applies them as AND conditions. For example, selecting the “Latin” language option and “Archives and Manuscripts” object type would return items with Latin as a language value, and an object type of Archives and Manuscripts.

To construct searches with different combinations of logical operators, use the Advanced Search.

The search interface includes an Advanced Search form. This can be used to constrain search terms to specific descriptive fields, and combine search terms using AND, OR and NOT logic.

Not all descriptive fields are present in all objects, so please be mindful that your search might not return all items relevant to your query.

Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT, capitalised) can also be used in the Simple Search box if you prefer.

Results within an item

Some items have descriptions of individual works or individual images within an object. If a search result is found within an individual work or image description, this will be indicated with an ‘X matching images’ button on the search result. Use this button to see the results within an object.

Search results

Each search results shows a thumbnail of the first image in the object, and some information about the item. The number of images in an object is shown on its thumbnail.

In list view, search results will show, where available, an object’s Shelfmark, Title, Date of Creation, Place of Origin, Language, and associated People. If a search term was entered, up to 2 snippets will show where the search term(s) appear in the item’s description.

In grid view, a thumbnail of the first image in the object is shown, with its Shelfmark and Title.

Search options

Search results can be shown either as a list or a grid. Use the icons to switch between these.

The number of search results shown per page can be adjusted using the per page dropdown.

The sort order of results can be adjusted using the Sort by dropdown. The default is Relevance, or Alphabetical if no search terms are entered.

Searches can be saved using the save search button. This requires a user account.

Saving an item

Items can be saved using the pin icon in the search results. This requires a user account.

Viewing objects

Object page layout (desktop)

An item’s shelfmark and institutional logo are shown above the main viewer area.

The main viewer area shows the current image, a set of image thumbnails, descriptive information about the object, and controls for interacting with the object.

Below the main area is further information about the object, including its copyright holder and terms of use.

Object page layout (mobile)

An item’s shelfmark and institutional logo are shown above the main viewer area.

The main area of the viewer shows the current image and controls for interacting with the object. Descriptive information about the object, thumbnails, and further controls can be accessed using the information button.

Below the main area is further information about the object, including its copyright holder and terms of use.

Interacting with an object

The viewer toolbar contains controls for interacting with an object:

  • The current image label is shown in the centre of the toolbar. This can also be used to select an image from a dropdown list of labels, or to enter an image label.
  • There are controls for loading the next, previous, first and last images.
  • The icons on the right can be used to change view modes between a single image at a time, two images at a time, a gallery of image thumbnails, or to make the viewer full screen.
  • The dropdown on the left can be used to open the image in alternative viewers (Mirador and Universal Viewer), or to access its IIIF manifest.

There are additional controls in the main image view for navigating to the next or previous image, adjusting the zoom, and rotating the image.

Keyboard controls

The main object view can be controlled using a keyboard. With the main image focused:

  • The Left and Right arrow keys move to the previous and next images.
  • Shift + Left and Shift + Right go to the first and last image.
  • Shift + Up or Shift + Down adjust the zoom.
  • W, A, S and D pan the view (if zoomed in).
  • R rotates the image.

The metadata panel

To the right of the image is the object metadata panel. All objects have an About section. Some objects also have Contents and Search Contents tabs.

  • The About tab contains descriptive information about an object, including links to full catalogue descriptions where available.

    We try to include as much descriptive information as possible in Digital Bodleian, but these descriptions do not necessarily contain the fullest or most up to date information about an object. For up-to-date descriptions, please consult our catalogues.
  • The Contents tab contains a navigable index of contents, and more detailed information about the contents of an item. In some cases these are descriptions of individual images. In others, they describe sections or texts within an object. Not all items have contents descriptions.
  • The Search Contents tab can be used to search an item’s contents descriptions. Please note that this only searches descriptive metadata - Digital Bodleian does not include textual transcriptions or full-text searches

Download images and metadata

Images can be downloaded from Digital Bodleian using the Download option in the About panel. Download options include:

  • The current image as a reduced-resolution jpeg
  • The current image as a full-resolution jpeg*†
  • The current image as a PDF†
  • The whole object as a zip file of reduced-resolution jpegs†
  • The whole object as a PDF†

By downloading images of an object you are confirming that you have read and agree to its Terms of Use.

* We offer full-resolution downloads where the Bodleian holds the copyright over the image. Some items in Digital Bodleian have other copyright holders, and full-resolution downloads may not be offered in these cases.

† Some full-resolution jpegs, zip files and PDF downloads can take a little while to prepare, so you will need to provide your email address to receive a notification when the download is ready. We only use this email address to send these notifications. Reduced-resolution downloads are immediate.

An item's metadata can also be downloaded as a PDF file.

Objects can be linked to, cited or saved using the action buttons in the About panel.

  • The Permalink dialog provides permalinks to an object, or a specific image within an object.
  • The Cite dialog gives a suggested citation for the digital object, including a permalink.
  • The Save button allows you to add an object to your Saved Objects. This requires a user account.

Embed objects

Digital Bodleian supports the oEmbed API, which allows you to easily embed an object in another web page by entering the url of the object or surface. You may need to whitelist our site in your oEmbed configuration to be able to do this, using the following values.

  • API scheme:
  • URL scheme:*

If this is not possible, you can also copy the iframe code directly from the object page by clicking the 'Embed' button.

Adjusting the view area

The thumbnail strip and metadata panels can be adjusted in size or hidden completely using the grab bars on each panel. Once hidden, they can be expanded again using the arrow buttons.

More information about an object

Further information is shown about an object below the main view area:

  • Its copyright holder and Terms of Use statement
  • The digitization sponsor where applicable
  • Similar items
  • Related collections

Known issues

We're aware of the following issues with the site. Please let us know at if you encounter any other problems.

  • Landing page:
    • In mobile view, there is sometimes excessive blank space beneath expanded carousel tile descriptions.
    • Styling of "recently digitized items" is incomplete.
  • Search:
    • Date histogram does not reset if filters including a date range are applied, then other filters are removed.
    • Some items are assigned the wrong Object Type.
    • Some items are assigned to the wrong (or no) Collection.
    • Some items are assigned to the wrong Region.
    • For result sets containing very few items with date ranges, the date histogram display is not user-friendly.
  • Object viewer:
    • In some cases, selecting a search contents result resets the scroll position of the search result panel.
    • “More like this” does not always return different versions of the same object.
    • For some items, terms of use appears under the ‘Copyright holder’ label.
  • Browse page:
    • The carousels in mobile view appear different to those on the landing page.
    • There is white space above site footer.
  • Downloads:
    • Sometimes, large downloads will time out.
    • Some jpeg downloads contain missing or incorrect colour profiles.
    • Some notification emails contain incorrectly encoded characters.
    • For some single-image downloads, Google Chrome reports an incorrect MIME type in the developer console.
    • The indicated image resolution for full image set downloads in the download dialog is not always correct.
    • Descriptive metadata given in PDFs does not fully replicate the information shown in the object viewer About panel.
    • Some terms of use and sponsor fields do not render correctly in PDF descriptions.
  • Collection and project pages:
    • Some collections and projects do not have full descriptions.
    • Some items are assigned to the wrong Collection.
  • User accounts:
    • It is not possible to remove saved items from the saved items view.
    • Saved items do not display well in mobile views.
  • Accessibility:
    • Not all search and object viewer elements can be controlled using a screen reader