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Discover our collections  

Last Updated: Jan 5, 2017 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

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Discover our collections

Our multidisciplinary library collection encompasses both print and online resources, including over 500,000 print books, 800,000 ebooks, an extensive electronic journal collection of more than 65,000 titles and access to primary digital resources and databases. All are accessible through Library Search; Library Search allows you to find and read every item in our collection, and to search many millions more beyond. To learn more about how to search effectively use our Search and Discover guide.

Have you found something you want from outside our collections? If you want to access a resource we don't have in our collections, see our Inter Library Loans service.

We also have reciprocal agreements for Northumbria University's staff and students to use other University Libraries through the SCONUL access scheme on a reference-only basis, and in some cases also includes borrowing rights; further details are provided in our Using other libraries page.

Books (both print and ebooks)

What? We have books in both print and ebook format covering all subjects. Books may be reference works for example encyclopaedias or dictionaries, which you can use as a starting point for your research; text books, which are standards books for your subject; fiction and non-fiction or critical works. Academic books contain more in-depth research than journal articles which are concise and are often peer reviewed.

Books can be available in several formats. Searching for the book ‘The house of seven gables’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne, we find it is available in print (813 HAW) floor 6; as an eBook, and there are also critical studies for it e.g. ‘The house of the seven gables: an authoritative text background and sources essays in criticism’, 813 HAW (GRO). Expanding the search to include journal articles finds academic articles written about it.

Why? Books are an invaluable asset throughout your studies. Academic books are written by experts in the subject and may include references to other information sources that can help you with your research for an assignment or dissertation.

You may be directed to books on your reading lists by your lecturer. The links in the reading list should take you directly to the details of the item. If the book is an ebook, you may be asked to sign in with your computer username and password. You can read them online wherever you have an internet connection using your university username and password. You may be able to download them to a portable device to read anywhere at any time or any place.

If a book is available in print you will be given a shelfmark which will tell you which library and what floor the book is located on.

If you don’t have particular authors or titles to look for, you can search for keywords in your subject via Library Search to find a whole host of resources, both in print and electronic, that are available for you from your library.

Journals (individual titles, both print and ejournals)

What? Journals are publications which are published on a regular basis containing relatively short articles which deal with a particular subject or professional activity.  They can be research journals that are peer reviewed by experts in the field, for example Nature, or trade publications, for example Building, which gives daily news on the building industry and up to date market news.

You can also access ejournal collections which are large, usually multi-disciplinary collections of journals supplied by individual publishers. Publisher collections may be focussed on particular subject areas for example, ACM Digital Library. This collection contains journals published by the Association of Computing Machinery and is focused on computing and related subjects. Other publishers such as Taylor & Francis are more interdisciplinary covering subjects from the Arts to Urban Studies.

Why? Journal articles are very important, providing access to subjects too new to be covered in books, providing accounts of current trends and reflecting current events. Journal articles can be used to provide examples to support general points or prove / disprove theories, making them especially useful when writing essays or the final year dissertation. Journals are also much more concise than books, so the information in them can be extracted far more quickly.

Research articles also contain detailed bibliographies that can lead you to other research that may be of interest to you.

Ejournal collections help the Library to provide a much broader range of resources and can contain specialist publications which are not available in any other collection.

Find the A-Z list of ejournals in Library Search.


What? Databases are electronic collections of references which include journal articles, reports, images, newspapers, conferences and statistical information. There are different types of databases:

    • Abstracting and Indexing: e.g. Web of Science, contain complete references to articles and sometimes an abstract of the article. Abstracts can give you a brief insight into articles you may wish to look for in another full-text database, or to obtain through Inter Library Loans Service.
    • Market Intelligence databases such as FAME, need to be searched directly as stand-alone resources. They may contain company reports and company data.

Why? Using resources specific to your subject enables you to be focused in your searching and give you more options to refine your search. You may find that all your needs are covered by one particular database but more often you will need to use more than one database to maximise your results.

Primary Digital Sources

What? Primary Digital Sources provide full text and pictorial reproduction of historical primary resources including newspapers, official and unofficial documents, personal diaries and papers, images, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps etc.

Why? Accessing primary sources is an invaluable way of investigating your research interests and subject area, and can bring your searching alive by providing contextual evidence and allowing you to see original material first-hand, for example, accessing the Churchill Archive, which contains his letters and thoughts. This is different from reading secondary sources where others have written about his thoughts. You can read it and critically assess yourself what he was thinking at the time. Mass Observation Online is a collections of papers; diaries and photographs from a team which studies the lives of ordinary people, the bulk of the research was between 1937 and the 1950s.

Other collections we have, for example, are:

Popular Culture in Britain and America 1950-1975 contains material such as fanzines; photographs; reports; newsreel footage taken at the time.

First World War including photographs; propaganda, letters and diaries collected from various libraries.

You can find a list of all our Primary digital sources from ‘Browse resource by subject’ listed under ‘Primary Digital Sources’ . Individual resources are found also under relevant subjects.

Special Collections, including microfilm collections

What? Special Collections are defined as those collections of library materials which, by virtue of their physical form, content or depth of subject coverage are distinguished from the LIbrary's main collections. They may be open access, interfiled at the appropriate class mark within the general book stock, or closed access located in the secure storage in the Library Sub-Basement. Special Collections include historical books, and print and microfilm primary archival resources. For further information see our Special Collections Policy.

Why? Using original historical books and accessing primary sources are invaluable ways of investigating your research interests and subject area.

How? Information on how to access our Special Collections guide is available on University Library Online.

Northumbria Journals

What? Northumbria Journals is the Open Access publishing platform managed by Northumbria University Library, in collaboration with the School of Law.  Currently the platform hosts three titles:

Why? Northumbria Journals provides Open Access to three international law journals, giving students, academics, law practitioners and the public the ability to read and re-use the most up-to-date research without any cost.

How? Northumbria Journals can be accessed online. Each journal and article published on the platform has its own unique link, with articles available to download straight from the site. For help and support in using Northumbria Journals, please contact the Scholarly Publications Team, who manage the resource, by contacting

Building our collections: requesting a new resource or trial

If you are an academic requesting books for a reading list please refer to our reading list guide or contact our Reading List team at or 0191 227 4142.

Requesting a new resource

What? We welcome recommendations from staff and students for the latest editions of books and new titles as well as journals and other electronic resources which support the current teaching and research interests of the University.

Why? We have streamlined the request process so that each request will be considered against criteria which link with the University Corporate Strategy, thus helping to grow high quality research and maximising student and stakeholder satisfaction.

How? Using an online form, details of the item requested will be submitted directly to the team who will consider it; book requests go to the reading list team and journals or other significant resources e.g. ebook collections; digital primary sources go the Collection Development team.

You can request new resources or trials at any time of the year.

Please note: Making a recommendation guarantees consideration, but does not guarantee purchase


What? Trials of research resources, for example databases, ebook collections and primary digital archives, provide free access to these resources for a limited period of time. During the trial, evaluating the resource enables an informed decision to be taken as whether they meet the teaching, learning and research requirements of the university. Ease of access and usability is also evaluated. Once a trial is complete and if it fills the criteria above, a case for purchase is submitted to Library Management Group.

An example of a primary digital source trialled and subsequently purchased is ProQuest History Vault: Civil Rights and the Black Freedom Struggle. Previously partially available in microfilm, online access to this resource via any internet connection at any time improved availability and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.

Why? To help us develop Northumbria's research collections to benefit you and the University body.

How? Trials can be requested at any time contacting the team on

Please note: Making a recommendation guarantees consideration, but does not guarantee purchase


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