Universiteit Leiden

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Subject guide


The Catalogue is a search and discovery tool that provides results from the library's online and print collections in a single search. It includes titles of printed books, journals, manuscripts, letters, and other material available at the libraries of Leiden University as well as links to the full-text of millions of, mainly, English journal articles and digital images of prints and manuscripts.


For more journal articles, search library databases by title or subject, available through clicking Find Databases

  • This Catalogue searches for items regardless of capitalization
  • Use quotation marks to search a phrase, e.g.: "open access for Africa"  
  • If you see the message: Maybe available, contact the library for more information about the availability
  • The Catalogue does not contain a large number of Dutch journal articles. To find articles in Dutch, we would advise you to use the database PiCarta via Find Databases
  • For medical information, also see the website of the Walaeus Library.

(Home) Access to the Catalogue and e-resources

  • Search the Catalogue: anyone anywhere (no login needed)
  • Full-text articles: only students and staff of Leiden University and the LUMC have worldwide access to the full-text articles and databases (after login). Others only have access within the Leiden University network
  • Login: upper right Sign in. Log in using ULCN and password
  • Logging in is only needed:
    • to request materials
    • to renew a loan
    • to place a recall on a book
    • for access to the personal functions in My Account (see the paragraph Sign In, My Account)
    • for access outside the university network to our digital collections (only available for students and staff of Leiden University and limited access for Leiden alumni).


What is being searched?

In  All Content you will find: (e)-books, (e)-journals, (digital) articles, audiovisual material and Special Collections available in:

  • Leiden University Libraries and the Digital Special Collections
  • Leiden University Digital Repository
  • Primo Central Index, a cross-disciplinary resource comprising citations to hundreds of millions articles, many of which are available in full-text to students and staff of Leiden University. Because not all library resources are included in Primo Central and because it lacks many of the features and functionality of specialist subject databases, you are advised to consult specialist databases to ensure highly accurate searching in particular subject areas.

In Leiden Collections you will find books and other materials available at Leiden University Libraries and the Special Collections. You can choose here between a search in all library locations or in a library location of your choice.

In Special Collections you will exclusively find manuscripts, early printed books, prints, drawings, letters, archives, photos, maps and other materials available at the Special Collections of Leiden University including collection guides and digitized materials. You can choose here between a search in the complete Special Collections or in one of the sub collections.

Performing Simple Searches

Just type one or more words you are looking for and click the Search button. When you search for an article choose All Content, when you search for a book from our collections, then choose Leiden Collections.

Note: the Catalogue assumes that you are searching for all the words you type unless OR or NOT is specified between the words and phrases.

Advanced Search

Use the Advanced Search option to search commonly-used fields, combine search or limit your search by date, language or type of publication. Available searchfields are: Title, Author/Creator, Subject, Publisher, Date, ISSN, ISBN, Shelfmark or Location Data.

Author search

Use advanced search and limit searching to the Authors field when you want to find articles by specific authors.

  • Click the Advanced Search tab
  • Select Author/Creator in the drop down menu
  • Select Exact in the next drop down menu
  • Click in the first text box and enter a name using one of the following formats. For example, if you want to search for Susan J. Brown, enter:
    - brown susan j (the last name plus the first name plus one initial)
    - brown s j (the last name plus one, two or more initials separated with a space)
    - brown susan (the last name plus the first name)

After you've made your search, you can refine your search by creator in the left menu. Here you can also click on one of the Suggested New Searches: by this author/creator. Note: If you use the 'Suggested New Searches: by this author/creator', you probably won't find all works from a specific author. Use different search methods and search terms to get the best results.

What more can I do with the Search Panel?

You can do more than just a simple search with the Search panel. Try the following search options to get the best results for your search.

Searching for a Phrase
To search for a phrase, type quotation marks around the phrase. Use the double quotes "", not the single ones. For example: if you search for "global warming" you will only find publications that contain both these words in the exact order that you typed them in.

Searching with AND OR, NOT
To use boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) within search phrases, you must enter them in uppercase letters. Otherwise, the Catalogue will consider them as part of the query.

AND: the Catalogue's Default Boolean operatator is AND. Example : celtic bretagne music. The query in the example returns pages having all of these words. You do not have to type AND explicitly.
OR: searches for items that contain at least one of the words or phrases you type in the search box. Example: irish OR celtic.
NOT: Combining search terms with the NOT operator narrows the search by excluding unwanted terms. For example: celtic NOT irish will find all items that contain the word celtic, but exclude items that contain the word irish.

Wildcards: ? *

  • ? replaces a single character. For example, type wom?n to search for records that contain the strings woman or women.
  • * the asterisk replaces multiple characters. For example, type cultur * to search for records that contain strings, such as culture, cultural, culturally and so on.

Grouping terms within a query
You can use parentheses to group terms within a query. For example, to search for music and either irish or scottish, type the following in the search box: music (irish OR scottish).

Include records with no full text access
When this box is unchecked, all the titles that you'll find, will all be available, either in printed format in one of the library buildings, either full text in digital format by clicking the View Online button.
When this box is checked, you will also receive titles in your result that are not available in our libraries, but maybe available in other libraries. To request material that is not available in our libraries, see the webpage: Books and articles from other libraries.

Why should I sign in?

When you sign into the catalogue, you are able to do the following:

  • Set preferences for your current and future sessions (see the paragraph Using e-Shelf)
  • Add items you found and queries you submitted permanently to your basket (see the paragraphs Using e-Shelf and Results List & Saving Queries)
  • Set alerts for your queries (see the paragraph Results List & Saving Queries)
  • Use library services, such as borrowing, reserving and renewing.

Why should I sign out? You should sign out of the Catalogues, especially at public pc's, so that your searches remain private and your personal settings and basket are not tampered with by anyone else.  

My Account

My Account enables you to view the contents of your library card and perform library services, such as renewing a book or check the status of a request. In addition, it lets you define your personal settings. To access My Account, click the My Account link, which appears at the top of each page in the Catalogue.

Personal Settings
You can tailor the user interface so that it reflects the way you usually search. For example, you can specify, the maximum numbers of search results per page. To set your preferences, click the Personal Settings option on the left side of My Account. Note: to keep your settings for future sessions, you must sign in and save your preferences.

Personalize your results
Tailor the relevance ranking of results to your discipline and academic degree through My Account – Personal Settings.

My Account terminology

In this list you will find a description of the terms used in My Account.   

What for?

e-Shelf allows you to save and organize items that you find during your session. To access e-Shelf, click the e-Shelf link at the top of the page.

Saving items to e-Shelf

If you select the star icon for an item in the search results, the system highlights the icon and adds the item to the Basket folder in e-Shelf. To add all items from a page to your e-Shelf basket at the same time, click on Add page to e-Shelf on the lower left side of the screen. The items without star will also be added.

Note: you must sign in to save items in e-Shelf for future sessions.

Removing/Viewing items from e-Shelf

To remove an item and all of its copies in the various folders in e-Shelf, select the highlighted star icon next to the item in the search results.

If you do not want to delete all copies of an item in e-Shelf, you must remove each copy directly from e-Shelf.

Viewing items saved in e-Shelf
To view items that are saved in e-Shelf, click the Basket folder or any of its subfolders. From the list of items, click the item that you want to display.

Managing folders en items

From the e-Shelf tab, you can perform the following operations on folders with the icons on the left-hand site:

  • Create Folder: add a new folder under the selected folder
  • Rename Folder: rename the selected folder
  • Copy Folder: copy the selected folder into memory. The original folder will not be changed or deleted
  • Paste Folder: paste the last folder placed into memory into the selected folder
  • Delete Folder: delete the selected folder from Basket
  • Add Note: add a note to a folder
  • Modify Note: modify a folder's note.

Managing items

From the e-Shelf tab, you can perform the following operations on items with the icons on the right-hand sight:

  • Cut Items
  • Copy Items
  • Paste Items: paste the last items from your cut or copy action into the current folder
  • Delete Items
  • E-mail
  • Print
  • Save:  select an option from the Save pull-down list and then click the GO-button.

Results List

  The results list display all the items that match your search query. Here you will find, if available:

  • Picture of the (book)cover/item (left)
  • Resource type: such as book, article, journal, and so forth (left)
  • Title
  • Author, sometimes followed by his date of birth
  • Source publication: journal name, year, volume, number, pages
  • Publication date
  • Collection: the source collection (i.e. a catalogue or database) the item has been found in
  • Star icon: click the star icon next to the title to add or remove the item from your basket. A highlighted star indicates that you have already added it to your basket.

If you would like to see more information on an item, you can select the following tabs:

View Online
The View Online tab displays items that may be available online. If the item has multiple entries, click an entry to display the item on a new page. Note: outside the library premises many online publications are only available for students and staff of Leiden University. 

Get It (locations Tab)
The Get It (locations) tab is only shown with items from the Leiden Collections or Special Collections. It allows you to request physical items or place a hold request for materials currently on loan. Note that you have to sign in to make a request. See our webpage Borrowing for more information.

If the tab Get It or View online don't any request information, please refer to the tab Details.  On the right you will find Links, with the possibility to link to the item's Component Records, the item's Host record, or to the digital source.  If you don't see this message, contact the library for information.

Most faculty libraries have open stacks, which means that you can take the materials from the shelves yourself.

View all versions
Each record will give brief bibliographic details of the item and its location. If there is more than one version of an item (e.i. if the item is found in several databases) all will be shown. Click on this to see details of all versions. Click the x after List of all versions to go back to the results List.

The Details tab displays the item's full record and additional links.

The Recommendations tab is only shown with articles, it displays additional items, which are based on searches that were performed by users that have also viewed this item. Provided by the Bx Ex Libris Recommender Service.

The Related tab displays additional items, which are based on searches that were performed by users from Library Thing

Saving queries, alerts and rss feeds

A query is a word or phrase you specify in the search panel to request information. If you are signed in, you can save a query by clicking the Save query link, which appears on the bottom-left of your Brief Results page. You can access your saved and session queries by clicking either the e-Shelf or My Account link and then clicking the Queries tab. You can run a saved query yourself, by clicking the name of the Query in the Queries list. To view the newest titles from your query, sort your results by Date in the drop down menu on top of your Brief Results page. The alerting service by email does not work yet. If you want to be notified, use RSS (see below).

This Session's Queries: lists all of the queries that you have performed in the current session.

Save Queries & Alerts: lists all of the queries and alerts that you have saved. Note: if you are not signed in, your queries are available only during the current session.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a popular way to distribute information from Web sites. For example, using RSS, a news site or a blog can automatically feed its news articles or entries to a group of subscribers.

In the Catalogue RSS feeds are used to notify you of new items found by the query. RSS feeds can be activated from either the search results or the Saved Queries & Alerts folder on the My Queries tab. All that you need is to have an RSS reader installed on your computer.

If your browser supports RSS, click the RSS button. A window from which you can subscribe to the RSS feeds opens. Follow the instructions in the window.

If your browser does not support RSS, right-click the RSS button, copy the URL, and paste it into an RSS reader of your choice.

How to export your references to EndNote?

Make sure the basket in the e-Shelf is empty

  • Perform a search in the Catalogue and select the items you wish to export by clicking the star in front of the title (see also NB)
  • Go to e-Shelf (button at the top right corner) and select the items again (up to a maximum of 30 items in one go)
  • Click the To Endnote etc. button -  choose UTF-8 - Click Ok
  • See View Downloads (IE) or Save and View Downloads (Chrome)
  • In the Primo_RIS_Export.ris screen choose Open > EndNote
  • In case you have more libraries, select which library to open
  • Import will start immediately in your most recently opened EndNote library 


  • In case you want to export one single reference at a time; open the tab Share/Save right of the title, choose Export record (RIS) - OK - Open.
  • When you are logged in (Sign in), the content of your e-Shelf will be saved for later use.

Editing imported records
An import from the PRIMO catalogue is not complete. Other databases like Web of Science or PiCarta return more exhaustive and more accurate records. In EndNote please check a.o. the following fields:

  • Reference type:  Was a book title really indexed as a book, or as a journal article, etc?
  • Books, edited volumes:
    - author (name may be entered twice. Sometimes editors or multiple authors end up in the wrong field, i.e. “series editors”)
    - contributers (like translator or illustrator) are omitted or end up in the wrong field (translated author)
  • Series title (sometimes they are not imported at all, or end up in the wrong field)
  • Articles
    - author (names of multiple authors are sometimes mixed up)
    - only the short title of the journal may be imported, not the complete title
    - parallel titles (i.e. a two language title) are not correctly imported
    - DOI, keywords or abstracts are not always imported.

How to find a Database in the Catalogue?

In the paragraph Databases (Search Tools) you will find more information on how to find databases in the catalogue.

How to find e-Journals in the Catalogue?

Most available e-journals can be found in the catalogue. Either you search for the name of the journal in the catalogue, or you can find it using the tab Find e-Journals. Here you can use the alphabetic list, or enter a word from the title. There is also a link to Browzine.

When searching a journal in the catalogue, you can refine your results by choosing in  Refine My Results  - More Options -  for Journals.

Another possibility to keep up with your favorite journals is to use Browzine. After making an account this app gives students and staff members of the Leiden University access to most e-journals we have a licence to.

How to find e-Books in the catalogue?

  • Most of the e-Books we have access to can be easily found in the catalogue by title.
  • Some titles can only be found in the database of the publisher, for example the Springer, Brill or the SDU. To find these titles please go to Find Databases and open the portal of the publisher.
  • More information: how to use e-Books

How to make a set of your favorite databases, e-journals and e-books?

To make a set of your favorite titles (databases, (e)journals, articles, (e)books) you first have to search them in the catalogue (so not in Find Databases or Find e-Journals)

  • In the Catalogue log in with your ULCN-account and password
  • Search for the title or subject of your interest
  • Refine your results with Resource Type (left side of the screen) 
  • In the results list: click the star in front of the title(s) to put the title(s) in the e-shelf
  • After you have done this go to the e-shelf (button top right)
  • Select the titles that you want to preserve
  • Cut them (scissors-icon)
  • Make a new folder and give it a name (e.g. e-journals)
  • Open this new folder
  • Paste selected records in this folder (icon second right from scissors).

More about the Catalogue?

Do our Online tutorial and find out how to find books and articles within the UBL. And how to obtain them, in digital or print form.

If you have questions about the Catalogue please use the Ask a librarian form.

If the Catalogue isn’t displaying correctly

If the Catalogue isn’t displaying correctly, clearing your browser’s cache and cookies may solve the problem. This webpage showes you how to do this.

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