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Official Publications: Searching

How to find Official Publications

The Library Catalogue and a number of printed indexes are used to locate materials held in print while a range of online databases are used to identify titles in e-format. Often a combination of these tools need to be used to find all the relevant materials. To begin:

  • Identify the organisation, body, department etc., which is responsible for the subject you are interested in.
  • To find publications held in the print archive, use the Library Catalogue's advanced search which offers the following fields:

Author: Official bodies distributing their publication are usually identified as the author so this field is searched for the organisation relevant to your research

Title: If you know which publication you are looking for, search this field with the exact title.  If you don't have the exact title, use the Keyword field

Publisher: Official bodies often publish their own work although commercial publishers are also used. If you know the publisher related to your research topic, use this field

Subject: This field can be used to find materials about or authored by an official body

Classification: The Library uses an in house classification system for official publications. Titles are classified by author. If you know the classification of the official body, using this field will present a list of its publications

Keyword: Use this field when you are unsure of the publication details or wish to use a combination of the above fields

Journal: Where the official body's output is produced in the form of a series of papers, use this field to search for the series title

  • To find more recent or current publications, identify the publications section of the organisation's web pages or search the appropriate online databases listed in each tab of this guide. A number of databases provide access to historic material. These may have specific searching criteria. 

Browsing the Official Publications Collection

The broad classifications for the print collection are:

JZ Great Britain

JZN Northern Ireland

JZP Republic of Ireland

JZR Council of Europe


JZU United Nations and agencies

JZW Canada

JY European Union

Tracing Official Publications

A range of print indexes and catalogues are available at the Enquiry Desk on Floor 2 of the McClay Library. These help identfiy all papers produced by an official body and some are listed by subject.

Indexes are of particular relevance to searching the historic parliamentary papers. Often a combination of print and online indexes work best.