Library Services


General Reference Resources

All collections in UCL Libraries have their own reference books and these are usually located at the beginning of the sequence. For example, Graham Bannock's The Penguin dictionary of economics is at ECONOMICS A 1 BAN. See the subject guides written by our Subject Librarians for more detailed information.

However, the largest collections of general reference books are located near the Reference Desks in the Main Library (in the Wilkins building), and in the Science Library (in the DMS Watson building)


Reference books in Main and Science Libraries are arranged according to a classification scheme unique to UCL; 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 collection which is near the REFERENCE collection in the Main Library.

Many resources are available online to registered members of UCL so for a complete list see our Databases A-Z You can also find all electronic resources for your particular subject via the drop down "All subjects" box. 

General reference works can be accessed via our Databases A-Z list include:-

  • American National Biography
  • Britannica
  • British Standards
  • Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography
  • Dictionnaires des 16e et 17e s. / Dictionaries of the 16th and 17th centuries
  • Duden Online
  • Eurostat
  • Oxford 3 in 1 Bilingual Dictionary
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Oxford Language Dictionaries
  • Oxford Reference Online
  • Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory
  • United Kingdom Official Publications
  • Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900
  • Who's Who and Who was Who
  • World of Learning

Other general reference works include:

Journal Title Abbreviations

If you are looking for information on journals, and specifically what an abbreviated journal title is in full these websites are extremely useful:-


Various mapping services which include geological and historical maps are available to UCL staff and students via Digimap (for information about access, please see our Databases A-Z)


Newspapers are available through a variety of services but for further information see our 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.


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.

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.

General Resources

UCL staff and students are able to use many other libraries, and can search for material in advance via various library catalogues.

The British Library is nearby, and UCL staff and students can apply for a Reader Pass. You will need to take identification showing proof of address (e.g. utility bill), proof of signature (e.g. driving licence) and proof of student or research status (UCL ID card) in order to register.

Regular training sessions on using the library and electronic resources are held in the Library. For details see our LibrarySkills @UCL training and guidance web pages.