Finding a Book

The College library contains books in most subject areas. It is generally regarded as an undergraduate library in terms of books available on the open shelves however some books are suitable for graduate study and certainly some texts have been purchased with graduate studies in mind.

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 may look a little unfamiliar at first.

PLEASE NOTE : during Michaelmas all books with a prefix "stack" will be available upon request however most of the books in the following subjects will be offsite and unavailable until Hilary term: English, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Politics, History, Classics and Ancient History unless they are in the skeleton library. The study skills, welfare and Very Short Introduction Collections will be available.

The shelfmark system at Brasenose College is based on subject areas. The basic format is a letter or letters (corresponding to a subject area) followed by a number. For example, the shelfmark F/MR 12 indicates English language and literature (in this case, Shakespeare). The letters and their corresponding subjects are shown below:

Main Library




Medicine, Biochemistry & Biological Sciences


English Language & Literature




Ancient History






Business and Management


Physics & Chemistry










Reference material, such as dictionaries, grammars and companions


History Library

All of the books held here have a shelfmark beginning with H.

Stallybrass Library

Law books have a shelfmark beginning with LR.

Reserve Collection

Some books are placed on reserve in the library office at the request of college tutors. The shelfmarks for these books follow the same convention as non-reserve material, with the prefix "Res" added to indicate their location. Most Res books are available for short loan (4 weeks) and are accessible upon request during normal working hours.


Books that are marked "For Reference Only" and/or "Not to be Taken Away" may not be checked out or removed from the library at any time.


A shelfmark with the prefix "stack" indicates that the book is held in one of several of the College's underground store rooms. If you require a stack book please ask library staff for assistance. Most stack books are available for loan.

English “stack” books are now located in the Treasury and may be browsed during office hours. Please ask if you would like to visit the Treasury.



The prefix "ART" is used for books belonging to the library's art collection located in the library office. These books are accessible upon request during normal working hours.


Oversize books usually kept the lower shelves of each subject area. The exception is the collection of oversize H books that is on shelves behind the computer in the History library.