Catalogue Help

General Access to Collections

What can I access?

For further details on what you can access before and after registering, please see our What Can I Access page.

Why can't I access Subscriptions and Other Resources if I live outside Wales?

The scheme is funded by the Welsh Government, and therefore to access this material you must have an address in Wales or a Welsh postcode.

How do I Register?

Further details on how you can register to become a reader can be found on our Reader's Ticket Page.

How do I log in to my account?

You can log in to your account from the top right corner of the Catalogue ('Sign in' button). You must log in in order to request items from the Catalogue and to view subscribed items.

How do I log out of my account?

There is no log out button, you must close the whole browser to log out. We are currently investigating the possibility of adding a specific log out button.

I've forgotten my password, how do I change it?

You can change your password on the Change Password page.

What service is offered in the Reading Rooms on Saturday?

The Library doesn't deliver items to the Reading Rooms on Saturday. Therefore all items MUST be ordered before 16:15 on the previous Thursday.

How long does it take for my requested items to reach the Reading Rooms?

Users are encouraged to order items to view in the Reading Rooms beforehand wherever possible. For detailed information please see our Item Delivery Times page.

I'm familiar with the Catalogue and NLW Archives and Manuscripts, but are there more Catalogues/Databases?

For a comprehensive list of all interfaces for searching only NLW resources, please see the More NLW Resources page. This list doesn't include external subscriptions.


General Searching

What am I searching on the Catalogue?

  • Everything: Search NLW collections and a selection of external digital content
  • Digital: Search NLW digital collections
  • Subscriptions: Search only subscribed external content
  • In the Library: Search only NLW collections

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.

What is a browse search?

The browse search returns an alphabetical list of results. This type of searching is useful when you know the title or the beginning of the title of a book, or for finding all the works associated with a particular author or subject. From the results page you can move forwards and backwards in the list from your original search term in order to find the heading you require.

How do I refine my search?

You can refine your searches in the left column as you view your results. You can refine using one or more of the fields below:

  • Author/Creator
  • Collection
  • Resource type
  • Subject
  • Creation date
  • Language

To make a refinement click on the 'More options' link for any of the above headings. A box will open and you can include/exclude certain facets. Click on the red 'Continue' button to save your selection, and your results will update automatically.

Any refinements made will be reset if you undertake a new search.

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.

What can I do without logging in?

You can:

  • Search the Catalogue
  • Navigate to other Library catalogues and databases
  • Search the online catalogues of other Welsh, UK and international institutions
  • Ask a reference question online

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

Archives & Manuscripts

What is the collapsible list in the left column when I view a record in NLW Archives and Manuscripts?

The collapsible list is the archival tree. It is this tree that shows how different items within a specific collection relate to each other. Within a collection like the Badminton Estate Records you have many single items. You may have opened a record that sits in the middle of a collection, and it's the archival tree that allows you to see what record come before and after it, and how it relates to the rest of the collection.

I have found the archival collection I want, and now I want to search within that collection, how do I do it?

Once you have opened the collection you require on NLW Archives and Manuscripts, you will see the archival tree in the left column (which lists every record in the collection). Above the tree you will see a tab called 'Quick search' - click on this. You can then enter your keyword, and all relevant results within the collection will appear below the search box. Select the record you want and the description will open in the right column.

How do I search for Wills?

You can search for wills through our designated wills search form.

From the wills search form you can select one or more of the following: diocese, date, name, parish, township or occupation. The more of these you can input information for, the more accurate your search results will be.

Once you have filled in the wills search form, you will be directed to your search results in the Catalogue.

  • How do I find the Call No?

If you are searching for a specific 'call no' you can find this under the 'Request' tab for each will (to the right of the title 'Location').

  • How do I view wills online?

To view wills click on the tab 'View' under the required Will. To view a large version, click on 'View larger version in new window' (this will open a new tab in your browser).

To see the will as a full screen, click on the link in the bottom right corner 'Full Screen'. To return to the normal view click Esc on your keyboard.

To see the different pages of the will, click on the thumbnail image in the left column or click on the arrows (to the right and left of the image)

  • How to zoom in/out of the digital image?

When you hover over the image you will see a '+' and '-' in the top left corner of the image, which will allow you to zoom in and out of the image. You can also use the circular arrow to rotate the image clockwise.

How do I search for Marriage Bonds?

Following user feedback, we are currently investigating the possibility of creating a bespoke search form for the marriage bonds collection.

For the moment, to search for the marriage bonds:

  1. Enter your search term in the Catalogue
  2. Select 'In the Library' from the drop down to the right of your search term
  3. Click Search
  4. In the left column under 'Collections' select 'More Options'
  5. Place a tick in the 'Include' column for 'Marriage Bonds'
  6. Click on the red 'Continue' button
  7. The box will close and the results will include only marriage bonds

Marriage bonds can only be searched from the Catalogue, and are NOT available in NLW Archives and Manuscripts

  • How do I find the 'call no'?

The 'call no' will be shown in brackets at the end of the text 'Available at' (to the right of the green dot) in the record for each bond.

  • What tips do you have to search for marriage bonds?

If you know the full name you're looking for, place the name in the search box with '' " around it. The results will only show records containing the full name. If you search for a full name without '' " it will show all results containing either name eg if you search for Mary Jones it will show every Mary, every Jones and every Mary Jones.

If you have a full name and place, use the Advanced Search (link to the right of the search button. Place the name in '' " in the first box and the place in '' " in the second box.

If you have a general date for the bond, you can refine your search results under 'Creation Date' in the left column (remember to click on the red button 'Refine' and your results will update).

How do I search the NLW Manuscripts collection?

To search for manuscripts visit NLW Archives and Manuscripts

You will find a search box in the black banner at the top of the page.

How do I use the archival tree in NLW Archives and Manuscripts?

The archival tree can be seen in the left column when you've opened a record in NLW Archives and Manuscripts (under the image of the Library). The archival tree looks like a collapsible list. It is a list of all the items within a specific collection. For example a collection like the Badminton Estate Records has many single items. You may have opened a record that sits in the middle of a collection, and it's the archival tree that allows you to see what record come before and after it, and how it relates to the rest of the collection.

The record you have opened will appear as dark grey. To open another record click on the blue text, or to open another 'branch' of the collection, click on the down arrow to the left of the item (it may take a little time for the tree to open).

When you select a record, the description will open on the right.

I have found the archival collection I want, and now I want to search within that collection, how do I do it?

Once you have opened the collection you require on NLW Archives and Manuscripts, you will see the archival tree in the left column (which lists every record in the collection). Above the tree you will see a tab called 'Quick search' - click on this. You can then enter your keyword, and all relevant results within the collection will appear below the search box. Select the record you want and the description will open in the right column.

How do I search for estate collections?

There are many ways of searching estate collections at NLW.

  • Searching across estate collections

You can enter your search term in the search box in NLW Archives and Manuscripts and see if there is a relevant collection in one of the estate collections

  • Searching within one particular estate record
  1. Search for the estate collections on NLW Archives and Manuscripts, then select the estate collection in the results. You can then select the tab 'Quick search' on the left (under image of the Library). This will allow you to search for a specific keyword within that specific estate collection. The relevant collections for your search will appear under the search box (not in the original search results). Once you click on your desired result the relevant collection will open on the right.
  2. Following user feedback, we have developed an A-Z index list of 50 of the largest/most used estate collections held at the Library. This list allows you to click on a title of an estate collection and see the top level record for that estate in NLW Archives and Manuscripts. You can subsequently use the quick search to search within the estate collection. Hopefully this should give quick access to a selection of estate collections.

How do I search for NLW Annual Reports?

You can search for NLW Annual Reports 1909-2000 (previously on ISYS) on our Archives and Manuscripts: Annual Reports page.

How do I search Theses Collection Wales?

You can use this designated form to search Theses Collection Wales.

How do I search Welsh Ballads Online?

You can use this designated form to search Welsh Ballads Online.

How do I search for individual photographic collections eg Geoff Charles?

  1. Click on 'Advanced Search' (link to the right of the search box)
  2. Enter the photographer's name in one of the search boxes. Place '' " around the name
  3. Select 'Author' from the drop down 'Any'
  4. If you're looking for a photograph of a specific thing, enter that keyword in the other search box (placing '' " around the search terms if there are more than one)
  5. Select 'In the Library' in the drop down for 'Search Scope' (to the right of the search boxes)
  6. Click on 'Search'
  7. Under 'Resource Type' in the left column, click on 'More options'
  8. Place a tick in the 'Include' column for 'Images'
  9. Click the red 'Continue' button
  10. The box will close and your results will update to show only photographs by your selected photographer and pertaining to your search term

If you know the date of the photograph, you can Select a 'Start Date' and 'End Date' before searching


Print Material

How do I search the Bibliography of Wales?

To search the Bibliography of Wales:

  1. Enter your search term
  2. Select 'In the Library' from the drop down to the right of the search box
  3. Click 'Search'
  4. On the results page, in the left column under the title 'Collection' click on 'More options'
  5. Place a tick in the 'include' column for 'Bibliography of Wales'
  6. Click the red 'Continue' button
  7. The box will close and your results will only show relevant records from the Bibliography of Wales

Requesting Items

How can I request items on the Catalogue?

You must be logged in to request items to be viewed in the Reading Rooms.

  • You can either login through the 'sign in' button in the right hand corner before searching, or you can search first and click on 'Sign-in for more options' towards the right hand side under the 'Request' tab of your selected item.
  • Once you are logged in you can select the item you want under location and then click on the blue 'Request' link under options for the required item
  • The details of the item will appear, and if correct you can click on the red 'Request' button

*Please note that a link to 'Check Delivery Times' appears at the top of the last box, and this will give details of when your item is likely to be available. Please note that items are not delivered on Saturdays and should be requested in accordance with the details on that page.

How can I request items on NLW Archives and Manuscripts

  • When you've opened the required item you will see a yellow 'Request' button on the right hand side.
  • You will be asked to login
  • Once logged in, you will see a 'Request Item' form
  • Check the details of the item you require, and if correct, click the yellow 'Request' button at the bottom of the form

Things I used to be able to do on ISYS

In ISYS I could see the records before and after my keyword results, how do I do it now?

This is still possible.

ISYS would allow you to open one collection at a time, and would highlight your search term within the records for that collection, allowing you to read the records before and after your search term.

Make a search in NLW Archives and Manuscripts and select the collection you wish to open (as you would in ISYS), but rather than having a long list of records, it will open the record including your search result, with an archival tree on the left.

This archival tree allows you to open all the records for that collection and read the descriptions. So rather than one long list of records as you had in ISYS, you can now see where your relevant records sit within a collection, and how each one relates to another, which gives you greater context for your results.

Please see the How do I use the archival tree in NLW Archives and Manuscripts (Under Archives and Manuscripts above) for more details on using the archival tree.

The Annual Reports used to be searchable through ISYS, how do I search them now?

You can search for NLW Annual Reports 1909-2000 on our Archives and Manuscripts: Annual Reports page.

I used to search for Marriage Bonds through ISYS, how do I search them now?

Following user feedback, we are currently investigating the possibility of creating a bespoke search form for the marriage bonds collection.

For the moment, to search for the marriage bonds:

  1. Enter your search term in the Catalogue
  2. Select 'In the Library' from the drop down to the right of your search term
  3. Click Search
  4. In the left column under 'Collections' select 'More Options'
  5. Place a tick in the 'Include' column for 'Marriage Bonds' in the list that opens
  6. Click on the red 'Continue' button
  7. The box will close and the results will include only marriage bonds

Marriage bonds can only be searched from the Catalogue, and are NOT available in NLW Archives and Manuscripts

  • How do I find the 'call no'?

The 'call no' will be shown in brackets at the end of the text 'Available at' (to the right of the green dot)

  • What tips do you have to search for marriage bonds?
  • If you know the full name you're looking for place the name in the search box with '' " around it. The results will only show records containing the full name. If you search for a full name without " '' it will show all results containing either name eg if you search for Mary Jones it will show every Mary and every Jones
  • If you have a full name and place, use the 'Advanced Search (link to the right of the search button'). Place the name in '' " in the first box and the place in " '' in the second box.
  • If you have a general date for the bond, you can refine your search results under 'Creation Date' in the left column (remember to click on the red button 'Refine' and your results will update).

I Can't find an answer to my question

If you can't find an answer to your question on the list above, you are welcome to contact the Library's Enquiries Service at any time.