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Searching for Resources: Explore



Explore is UCL Library Services' single search tool for finding journals, books, full-text articles, archive material and much more. Whether you're looking for items on your reading list or research for a project or essay, you'll find it in Explore and you get instant access to any full-text content the library subscribes to. 

The Explore Help pages provide guidance on using Explore, including information on performing basic searches, using your results and managing your library account.

Helpful Hints

To help you get the most out of Explore, here are a few helpful hints to get you started:

  • Sign in to make the most of of your search.  You'll get a more complete set of results and you will need to sign in to find the availability.
  • Once you've signed in you will be able to save the results of a query, or save the details of an individual item record to "Your Favourites"  - look for the pin!
  • Use the filters on the left hand side of the screen to narrow down your search results.
  • The "Advanced Search" option allows you to set more specific parameters in your search.
  • The "Browse" option allows you to browse our collections by subject heading, author, title or shelfmark.
  • If you are looking for IOE books, please see this helpful guide on keyword and subject searching for items held in the IOE collections.
  • You can locate databases using search too - including the British Education Index and ERIC. Alternatively, you can still find an A-Z list on the UCL Databases page. 


If you find that that the book you want is out of the library and there are no copies available in any other UCL libraries, you may want to place a request for that title. You cannot place a request for books that are available, on the shelves, in the library.

Sign in with your username and password, find the item you want to request and then click 'Request'.

If there are multiple requests for a title, all requests will be limited to one week for standard (8 week) items.

Screenshot of a search result showing an item out on loan which you can request


Once you click 'Request' a new box will appear, as below, titled "Details of the Title you Requested." Here you can add any additional comment you think library staff will need to know to fulfill your request. If all of the information in this box is correct, click on the green Request button. 

You will receive an email when the item is in the library and you'll be able to collect it from the reservation shelf on level 4. Items are arranged in alphabetical order by requester's surname. They are held for one week. 

Screenshot showing the Request option on Explore, the Library Catalogue








Searching for specified words or phrases

You can search for items that contain at least one of the words or phrases you require. If you have multiple terms that are synonymous, type OR between the words or phrases. If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, Explore assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases.

e.g. irish OR celtic.

Searching for a phrase

To search for a phrase, type double quotation marks around the phrase. You can combine both words and phrases in your search. If you do not enclose the phrase with quotation marks, the system will find items that contain the individual words in the phrase, regardless of whether these words are located next to each other in the order specified.

e.g. “global warming”.

Searching using a DOI

To search for a specific article using its DOI, type the full DOI into the search bar and click Search. If your DOI search doesn't bring back any results, try searching for the title or ISSN of the journal, as it may be held in print format.

Searching using an ISSN

Searching a journal's ISSN will retrieve results for both the overall title and any articles available electronically. To search using an ISSN, enter the full number (including hyphen) in the search bar and click Search.

Searching using an ISBN

Searching by a book's ISBN is a good way to find a specific edition or version. To search using an ISBN, enter the 10- or 13-digit number into the search bar and click Search.

Excluding words or phrases

You can exclude items that contain specific words or phrases. To do so, type NOT and then type the word or phrase to exclude. If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, Explore assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases.

e.g. celtic NOT irish.

Searching using wildcard characters

Enter a question mark ? to perform a single character wildcard search. For example, to search for records that contain woman or women, type:  wom?n.

Enter an asterisk * to perform a multiple character wildcard search. For example, to search for records that contain culture, cultural and culturally type:  cultur*.

Grouping terms within a query

You can use parentheses to group terms within a query. For example, to search for Shakespeare and either tragedy or sonnet, type the following in the search box:  shakespeare (tragedy OR sonnet).

Selecting a resource type or library

You can refine your search by resource type (e.g., articles, books, dissertations) and library (e.g. IOE, Main, SSEES). 

Because the library holds a number of specialist collections (Curriculum Resources, Comparative, Special Collections, etc.), collections are classified and separated in order to group similar resources together. For this reason, it is essential that you search online rather than solely browse the shelves as there will not be one place for one subject.

IOE Library classification schemes vary with collections. Shelfmarks are based on letters, numbers or a combination of the two. To find an item, write down the shelfmark and location.

Remember that you need to log in with your username and password to get the full record, with loan type.


Library resources can be located by their shelfmarks in the library record in Explore. Make a note of the whole shelfmark and note the difference between capital letters and small letters. For example, 'IOE Main Pij Jab Ram COR' can be broken down as:

  • IOE is the library.
  • Main is a collection within the library.
  • Pij Jab Ram are the subjects covered.
  • COR are the first three letters of the author's surname.

Loan Types

  • 8 week (standard, subject to a 1 week recall if reserved).
  • 1 week.
  • Short loan (must be returned by 10 am the next day).
  • Reference.

Libraries & Availability 

In Explore, the book's record will display the library and availability of and item. If the item has a due date, that means it is out of the library and can be requested. If the item is in IOE Store, it can be requested from the Explore record.


Screenshot showing the loan period for a resource on Explore

Search UCL Explore

UCL Explore