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Explore the Library’s books, journals and online resources. Find out more


General Reference resources

All subjects have their own reference books and these are usually located at the beginning of the collection. For example, Graham Bannock's The Penguin dictionary of economics is at ECONOMICS A 1 BAN. See Subject Guides for more information. However the largest collections of general reference books are shelved near the Main and Science Enquiry Desks so see "Printed Collections" below for details. We also have a growing number of e-books which include reference works so see more on these in "Electronic collections".

Printed collections

The principal Reference collections are located near the Enquiry Desks in the Main Library (in the Wilkins building) and in the Science Library (in the DMS Watson building). See separate pages for sites and opening hours.

Book Collections

The Library has its own classification scheme for arranging books on the shelves; classmarks for reference books will start with either REFERENCE, or SCIENCE LIBRARY REFERENCE. This indicates whether it is in the Main Library or Science Library respectively, and is followed by letters and numbers denoting its classified position on the shelves in that section; e.g.

REFERENCE BB 2a for "Who's Who"

SCIENCE LIBRARY REFERENCE BC 4a SCI for "Dictionary of Scientific Biography"

The Reference collections include language and subject dictionaries, writing and style guides, biographical works, guides to information resources and directories of funding bodies.

Borrowable books on writing essays and papers, and study skills generally, are available in the HIGHER EDUCATION and CALT collections which are adjacent to REFERENCE in the Main Library.


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Electronic collections

Many Resources are available online to registered members of UCL. These include specialist abstracting and indexing databases which describe and list the contents of published literature such as books, journals and conference proceedings. You should search these for a complete review of literature in your subject. These were once held in paper form but they are now available as electronic databases. See our Databases A-Z for a complete list and click on the little i for details of what the database covers in terms of date range, for examples of particular search tips and whether it covers books and journals or only the latter. If you want to see all electronic resources for your subject then select it from the drop down box alongside Display a list by subject. You can search up to 10 databases in one go via Metalib which is a one way of getting to know the best databases for your topic and managing your searches in the "My space" section. However, not all of them work through this service so look at the search examples and ask for help if you aren't getting the results that you would expect. See our leaflet for more information.

Journal Title Abbreviations

Online Reference Works

Databases on the College Network which include abstracting and indexing services are listed in full at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/database/.

However, the following are useful general reference resources:

Funding information


Edina Digimap

Historical maps:

Other useful map services:


Newspapers are available through a variety of services but for further information see the Library's Newspaper web page.

NexisUK has the full text of hundreds of newspapers from all over the world as far back as the 1980s. Earlier decades of 20th Century can be found in The Times Digital Archive and Proquest Historical Newspapers and earlier centuries via British Library Newspaper collections.

General services

Postgraduate Study


Information about theses can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/database/theses.shtml.

UCL PhD theses in printed format are kept in our Store outside London and to consult such in one of our libraries you will need to fill in a Store Request Form but for full details on the service please see:-


More recent UCL theses may be available in UCL Discovery:-


Otherwise, the British Library's EThOS service is digitizing older UK PhD theses on demand so you could request a copy via their website:-


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Contact details

If you have any problems using the Library, come to an Enquiry Desk or e-mail library@ucl.ac.uk.

Alternatively contact Debs Furness, Head of Enquiry Services:-
E-mail d.furness@ucl.ac.uk
Telephone: internal: 32210; external: 020 7679 2210

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Last modified 11 December 2013

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