Online catalogue guide

Discover how to get started and how to get the most out of the online catalogue.

Online catalogue

Image: Online catalogue

Use the online catalogue to search and locate material from our collections. This page will provide you with information about how to start with basic searches, while the downloadable 'Guide to using the online catalogue' will show you how to use the advanced search tools in the catalogue.

PDF Guide to using the online catalogue  
File size: 2,530 kB  

On this page, find out more about the online catalogue:

Key points About the catalogue


  • it is searchable using any keywords, e.g. the name of an architect, a building, book title, author or subject
  • search results can be printed or emailed
  • provides details and locations of items in the collections
  • free and publicly accessible 24 hours a day
  • borrowers can renew books from the Loan Library
  • updated regularly with 15,000 new article records each year from our indexing team
  • Some items may not appear in the catalogue; to see if material not listed in the catalogue is available, please contact us

Getting started


It is essential to use the 'Go Back' and other icons on the catalogue's blue toolbar in order to navigate – not the navigation buttons on the web browser. The catalogue can viewed in all major browsers and mobile devices and access is free.

Quick searches

Quick Search Box

Image: 'Quick Search' box of the online catalogue

A quick search of the online catalogue is the simplest way to find out what is in the collections of the Library. Entering one keyword into the empty field in the 'Quick Search' box on the catalogue homepage is enough to begin a search. A keyword can be, for example, the name of an architect, a place, part of a title or an architectural term.

quick search box options

Image: 'Quick Search' box with 'collections' drop-down menu

Specifying an option from the 'collections' drop-down menu (above the 'Advanced Search' link) will help to narrow down the results. To finish, press the 'Search' button to the right and a list of search results will be displayed automatically on a new webpage. If too many results are returned, narrow down the results using the advanced search mode instead.

Advanced searches

advanced search

Image: the 'Advanced Search' mode in the catalogue

Where searches need to be specific or more targeted, use the 'Advanced Search'. This part of the online catalogue has many more options not available elsewhere. A link to the advanced search mode can be found at the bottom of the 'Quick Search' box on the catalogue homepage.

There is no need to fill in every field, but the more information that is entered, the more accurate the search results will be. An advanced search can be manipulated in several ways: 

  • by typing keywords into the different fields, such as an author or architect, which can be excluded or combined through the 'AND' drop-down menu on the right 
  • by specifying details about the items you are looking for, such as language or format in the drop-down menus at the bottom of the page.

Once keywords have been entered and options chosen, the search of the catalogue can begin by pressing 'Search' to produce a set of search results relating to your chosen keywords and criteria.

Search results

Search Results

Image: Search results from the online catalogue

Once a quick or advanced search has been made, the online catalogue will produce a list of items most closely related to your chosen keywords or criteria. The results are usually listed in order of publication date, with the most recent first. To the left of each item are two icons:

  • Details – to find out more about an item 
  • Select – to save and print information.


Press the 'Details' icon and a new webpage will appear with a panel containing more information about the chosen item. This information is divided into two parts. The 'Catalogue Record' will be displayed first and will have descriptive information such as author, medium, date of production and full title, and should indicate if the item is relevant to your search. The second tab, 'Location in RIBA Library', will show where in the Library it is kept. There is a list explaining these locations and how to access the material.


Use the 'Select' icon to save the information about the item for later. During your session, anything saved can be viewed together by pressing the 'Selected' button in the blue toolbar in the page header. This will take you to a new webpage where the results can also be emailed or printed.


Location of items

PDF  Online catalogue: Locations  
File size: 375 kB

The catalogue will indicate where each item is located. The downloadable 'Online catalogue: Locations' document will provide details about what these locations are and how to access items located there. 

Photographs, books and journals are held at our headquarters (66 Portland Place) and accessed through the Library's Reading Room, while the drawings and archives are accessible through the RIBA Architecture Study Rooms (Victoria and Albert Museum). Staff at the Library's two sites will help to retrieve any items that are in closed stacks or stored offsite, subject to set collection times and opening hours. 

Please note that due to building work there will be reduced access to parts of the collection until 2017 and advanced notice will be required for some items. Please contact us if you have any queries.