Finding the book you want

The Kederminster Library (built c.1620), Langley Church, Slough, Bucks. Use the menu to the left to trawl through general bibliographies. For books on a specific building type, see the page on that type. For books on a specific style, see the page on that style. The bibliographies also include online works and databases on the topic.

Tracking down a copy of the book you want has never been easier. Many library catalogues are now online. There are even combined library catalogues. Copac provides access to the merged online catalogues ofmajor university and specialist research libraries in the UK and Ireland plus the British Library, the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales. WorldCat is the largest union catalogue, combining the records of thousands of libraries around the world.

If the book you want is not in the nearest library, you can arrange for it to be sent there through inter-library loan.

Certain libraries receive a copy of all works published in the UK and Ireland, but they restrict access: the Bodleian Library, the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales and the libraries of Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Cambridge. In a similar way, the National Library of Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin are entitled to a copy of all works published in the Republic of Ireland. The Northern Ireland Publications Resource provides an online catalogue of all works published in Northern Ireland since January 2000.

Enforced deposit of publications has ensured that selected libraries have complete collections (barring accident or failures to comply) from the date the law affecting them was made. The concept began in France with the Montpellier Ordinance of 28 December 1537, which required all publishers in France to deposit a copy of every newly-published book in the royal library of France. The earliest arrangement in the UK for a library of deposit was a private one in 1610 between the Stationers Company and the library founded by Sir Thomas Bodley for the University of Oxford (the Bodleian Library). A legal requirement upon publishers to deposit was included in the 1662 Licensing Act. This extended the libraries of deposit to two: the Bodleian and the (British) royal library. The first copyright statute in 1709 increased the number of deposit libraries to nine in England and Scotland, which was increased on the Union with Ireland to eleven, but reduced to five in 1836. These five included the library of the British Museum, which had meanwhile acquired the Royal Library and its right of deposit in 1757, and which was to become the British Library in the fullness of time.

Works online

Books and scholarly papers are becoming available online in increasing numbers. However the laws of copyright restrict the choice. The works of the last few decades will generally not be found in full online, except to paid subscribers, or those who have access to online collections through their university or public library. Almost allpublic libraries in the UK now offer access to Oxford Reference Online.

Over a million books can be read online at the Open Library or printed out or downloaded from the Internet Archive. Some recent books have been made available by their authors or publishers through Scribd, either free or for digital purchase. Google Book Search allows you to search the full text of books, but the amount of text it allows you to read depends on whether the book is in or out of copyright.

Buying books online

Buying books has never been easier either. One canorder online not only books currently in print, but those hard-to-find items. You can trawl for second-hand books via online retailers, or in some cases buy a digital copy of an out-of-copyright work on CD. This website does not recommend booksellers, but mention should be made of Archive CD Books, since it specialises in material of value to genealogists and local historians.