How best to search specific collections

Do I have to sign in before searching?

You don't have to sign in before searching, but it can be helpful as you won't have to re-select any volumes etc which you may have already selected on the item record.

I only want to search within the collections of the National Library, how do I do this?

If you only want results for items held in the collections of the National Library, you should select 'In the Library' from the drop down when you enter your search term.

How can I search the External Resources the Library subscribes to?

You'll find a link to a list of all our External Resources at the top of each page on the Catalogue, and also in one of the boxes on the homepage.

From this list you can select which resources you wish to search, or you can search across the all from the search box at the top of the page.

How can I search the archival and manuscript collections?

NLW Archives and Manuscripts is a dedicated catalogue for our archival and manuscript collections. You can search and view the archival tree for each collection on this catalogue. You can also request items to view in the Reading Room.

If you wish, you can search archives and manuscripts in the main Catalogue, but you would need to filter your results to just these collections. To do this, select Archives and Manuscripts under 'Resources Type' in the right column of your results.

Please note that you cannot serach for wills or marraige bonds in NLW Archives and Manuscripts. You should use the bespoke wills search form and marriage bonds search form to search these collections.

Do you have other search resources other than the main catalogues?

Yes. We have many websites and search form which allow you to search specific collections eg Welsh Newspapers Online, Wills etc.

View the Library Resources page to see a full list of the searchable resources we offer. It's often better to use the bespoke resources on this page to search specific collections as it noarrows your search, and some offer additional functionality eg searching nespapers on article level.


How best to search using the main Catalogue

How can I get the most of my search terms?

When searching on any of our Catalogues, it's best to avoid using sentences.

The Catalogue will search for all the terms you use, so using long sentences will bring a lot of unrelated results eg don't use search terms such as 'wills for the diocese of St Asaph' instead, you should narrow your search terms eg wills AND St Asaph (see the question regarding Boolean searching below for an explanation about how to use AND in your search terms)

Can I narrow my search from the beginning to reduce the number of results?

Yes. When you type in your search terms, you will see a dropdown appear under the search box. This allows you to select what type of material you wish to search. Clicking on one of these will significantly narrow your search results. See the What Can I Search help page for more information on what these options mean.

You can also see this list in the dropdown to the right of the search box (it says In the Library). This list is a little longer than the dropdown which appears as you type.

By default, you will always search In the Library, which means your search will be confined to all NLW collections.

I have too many results, how can I refine/filter them?

Once you see your results, you will see a column of filters to the right which allows you to refine your results.

You can refine by:

  • Creation Date (input the dates you wish to search between and click the Search link to the right of the boxes)
  • Resource Type (the type of items you're interested in (eg books, archives and manuscripts etc)
  • Availability (whether the item is a physical one in the Library, or digital and available to view online)
  • Author/Creator (the person/institution etc who created the item eg an author, photographer, artist etc)
  • Collection (which collection the item belongs too eg wills, ITV etc)
  • Language (in which language the item is written)
  • Subject (specific subject headings the item relates too)

How do I use the filters in the right hand column of my results?

You can choose one item at a time from the list by clicking on the text of the one you want.

You can choose more than one at the same time by ticking the boxes to the left of each label (text) and then clicking on the Apply Filters button which appears at the bottom of the column.

You can also choose to omit some of the items by hovering over the text and the clicking on the red icon of a box with a tick and a line through it which appears to the right of the text

Any fileters you have chosen will appear at the top of the right hand side filters column under the title Active Selections. To clear these click on the Clear Selections option at the bottom of your selected filters list.

I have a long list of results, how can I sort it?

You can sort your results by:

  • Relevance
  • Date-newest
  • Date-oldest
  • Title
  • Author

Click on the small down arrow to the right of the Sort by option at the top of the right hand column in your results list.

The default sort order is always Relevance.

What are Boolean commands?

These are commands which allow you to combine search terms to broaden or limit your search. The terms supported in this Catalogue include AND, OR, NOT and NEAR.

  • AND combines two or more keywords, limiting your search, for example: Peacocks AND Paradise will produce results containing both these search terms, eg Peacocks in Paradise
  • OR will produce results with either search terms in the title broadening your search, for example: Peacocks OR Paradise will produce results including Peacocks in Paradise Lost.
  • NOT will exclude a term from your search, making your search more specific, for example: Milton, John NOT Paradise Lost will produce a list of works by Milton not including Paradise Lost
  • NEAR will produce results where your search terms are within five words of each other, for example: History NEAR Britain will produce a list of results including Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain

How do I use wildcards and truncation when searching?

Wildcards stand in for missing characters. They are useful if you want to search for variant spellings

  • Use ? when you want to specify the number of missing characters: use as many ?s as there are missing characters, for example: colo?r will find colour  and color but not collector
  • Use * to represent an unspecified number of missing characters, for example: colo*r will find colour, color, collector etc
  • You can use truncation at the beginning and end of words, for example: librar* will find library, librarian etc library? will only find library. *arm will find farm, harm, charm etc

I know an item is in the Library but can't find it, what do I do?

If you're aware that a certain item is in the collection, but cannot find it on the Catalogue, you can use this form to make a non-Catalogue request.


Advanced Search

How do I use the advanced search?

Click on the link to the right of the main Catalogue search box.

Select one of the Search for options to narrow your search. The default is alway In the Library (searching only NLW collections).

Use the Title dropdown to refine your search eg if you know the title or author, select the relevant option and place your search term in the box to the right.

You can use multiple lines of the search boxes if you know for instance the title and author.

You can use the options on the right if you know for instance the year, or the type of material you're interested in.

Once you have added your search terms the text Search will appear in the bottom right corner of the box - click this to search.

Your results will appear below the box.