A guide to our online catalogue

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How to use the Marx Memorial Library’s Online Catalogue

Our online catalogue is the easiest way to search our collections. It is hosted by Soutron and is a database of bibliographic information, descriptions and metadata on our books, pamphlets, periodicals, archives, posters and more. It tells us more about the collections, in addition to where to find them in the library. 

1.    Basic search

This is the best option if you have a particular name, place or title in mind.

Simply type your search term into the search box by the magnifying glass and press enter.

You will be taken to a new page with your search results. Your search term will be highlighted in yellow. The results will appear as a list under one or more ‘tabs’, dividing results into the type of material in the collection.

The following ‘tab’ headings are used:
Printed material = pamphlets and books
Serials = periodicals and journals
Archive = original archive and documentary collections e.g. Spanish Collection; papers of Arthur Clegg

Select the tabs to view results under each type. The tab with greatest number of search results will be displayed first.

The numbers in the top right above the result list show the number of pages of results.

If you would like to further amend your search and sort by type you can deselect tick-boxes in the left side bar ‘Filter by Content’. You might like to do this if you know, for example, you are looking for archival rather than published material.

To view further details, select the record you are interested in from the results list. This will take you to a new page with additional information including the item’s reference and location. 

For a further breakdown on how to understand the descriptions of these record types see below sections 3-6.


2.    Advanced search
If you have more specific search criteria involving more than one search field, you may need to use the catalogue’s advanced search function. 

Select the link in the top right hand of the screen. This will enable you to search various fields all at once. You can, for example, look for pamphlets published in 1920-1922, or for material on anti-apartheid published by the ANC.

Some tools include:
•    Using AND/OR to include or combine search terms
•    Using ‘*’ to search for records where a particular field is blank
•    You can also select a new field to search from drop down list, highlighted below.

When you select ‘search’ your results will appear as detailed above.


3.    Records for archives
Archival records - usually unpublished manuscripts and papers created by a given person or organisation and retained for the on-going research value - are described in a hierarchy structure. The ‘collection’ description tells us about the whole archive, including information about the creating body or individual. You might find biographical information here, and the date span for all of the papers in the archive. 

Archives are then usually described at series, file and item level. Most people will request to view archival material at file or item level. The ‘extent’ field, usually expressed in ‘folders’ or ‘boxes’ will give you an idea of how much material the record refers to. The hierarchy structure is reflected in the reference numbers e.g. AC = Reference for the papers of Arthur Clegg; AC/1 China Campaign Committee papers etc.

This means that an archive collection can be searched (as above) or browsed using the tree hierarchy, by expanding the file structure by selecting ‘+’. Select the title for further information at each level. 




4.    Records for books and pamphlets

These can be found under ‘Printed Material’. You can find here full details including publisher, author, editor and date. Thesaurus terms link /tag the record thematically.

Beneath the main record, you’ll find a list of ‘copies’ with ‘locations’ and ‘shelf reference’ – this is the information you’ll need to find the volumes in the library.


5.    Records for periodicals, journals and serials

These can be found under ‘Serials’. Information on the publisher, editor and the frequency of the publication can be found here. We often do not have full runs of a given serials so it is important to look at the information given in the ‘frequency holdings’ where the date spans of our holdings will be given, with issue and volume number where appropriate.


6.    Records for posters

Over 1,700 of our posters are now searchable on our catalogue. They can be found under the 'poster' tab. Each poster has a unique poster number starting with the letters 'PO' and the are searchable by artist, date and subject.


7. Objects

We have recently begun cataloguing our objects - our ceramics, banners and other artefacts - on our catalogue. At the moment a set of 28 ceramics have been added and are searchable by maker, subject, type and date. These can be found under the 'object' tab.