Skip to Main Content

Brasenose College Library: Finding a book

Finding a book

SOLO is the mechanism for searching the Oxford libraries' catalogue

You will need to sign in with your Oxford Single Sign-on (SSO) in order to obtain full search results when using SOLO. The section "My Account" is where you can renew books and manage your University library account.  You can limit your search to “Brasenose only” if you so wish but you are probably more likely to carry out a search across all libraries. Your search results will provide you with a shelfmark; with various different classification and shelfmark systems in use across the many Oxford libraries these can look a little unfamiliar at first.

If Brasenose Library is listed, it means we have the book on the shelves. Note the shelfmark down and find it on the shelf to self-issue.

*Please note you may see a green request button next to Brasenose Library in the locations list on SOLO. This is misleading as Brasenose books cannot be requested. You will simply need to go to the shelf to pick it up and self-issue.

Remember that  you can always ask if you are unsure about how to search and locate items or are baffled  by reading list references.

Staff are always happy to help!


Suggestions for purchase

The College Librarian aims to meet the needs of library users and attaches particular importance to buying books and making them available as quickly as possible in response to students' requests. In this way the College library compliments the many and varied library resources available in Oxford.

We actively encourage students to suggest book purchases!

If BNC does not have a book that you require you may make a suggestion for purchase. We aim to satisfy requests as soon as possible, often within 24 hours.

Proposals should be sent by email to the librarian and your tutor. Full details of the book including the exact title, correct spelling of the author’s name, ISBN and year of publication if known.

Brasenose shelf-marks

The shelf-mark system is based on subject areas.

The basic format is a letter or letters corresponding to a subject area and subset of that subject, followed by a number.

For example,  F/MR 12 indicates English, in this case Shakespeare:

F= English
MR = Shakespeare
12 = book sequence number

We have print outs of shelf-mark locations all around the library so please do not to worry if it looks confusing and you don't remember where your subject area is straight away!

As a general rule, economics, modern languages and humanities subjects are in the main library (Del Favero Reading Room), and the sciences (including geography), music and art, are downstairs in the Smith Reading Room (Old Cloisters). History and politics books are in the history library (with the shelf mark starting with H), and all law texts are in the Stallybrass Library. 


Modern Languages


Medicine & Biological Sciences






English Language & Literature




Ancient History






Business and Management


Physics & Chemistry







NX Engineering ART Art





 Reference material, such as dictionaries, grammars and companions


Please do ask if you have any problems finding books (it may be that some are miss-shelved/missing/or all on loan, in which case it's useful for us to know so we can purchase additional copies for you). 

Staff are happy to retrieve books on high shelves for anyone uncomfortable using the mobile steps.

Stack book requests

Books with a prefix ”stack” or “res” on their shelf-mark are not held in the main collection but will be fetched upon request. Please come chat to us or send an email if you require one of these books, and we will aim to get it to you ASAP.

Note that these books and periodicals can only be fetched within standard working hours.


Additional help

Please do reach out if you are struggling with finding relevant resources or feel overwhelmed with where to start.

We are always happy to sit down with students and go through using SOLO.

The Bodleian also offers a terrific set of iSkills workshops that are completely free, and are designed to help you make effective use of electronic and other library resources in your research and learning. This also includes classes on how to reference.