Universiteit Leiden

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Subject guide

Searching in Digital Collections

Digital Collections is a collection of over two million digitized primary sources (such as old prints, medieval manuscripts, photographs and drawings, but also other digital formats, such as sound recordings) of Leiden University Libraries and of collections on loan from other institutions (as those of KITLV and KIT Royal Tropical Institute).

To search for items in Digital Collections use the search box at the top end of your screen. You can search all collections simultaneously, or in one collection at a time. In most cases, printed works can be searched full text. You can search items presented in PDF-format full text by clicking the magnifying glass-icon in the viewer.

Each item is assigned a description, containing among others the shelfmark (storage number or digital object ID). If you search on shelfmark then put the number between double quotation marks (“”) in the search box.

You can also search Digital Collections indirectly by using the Catalogue. Select ‘Special Collections’ and use the filter ‘Online acces’ to limit your search result to records which provide direct links to items in Digital Collections.

When on the homepage of Digital Collections, you can summon all digital renderings of items sorted by collection and browse through them. The collections are divided in several clusters: Image Collections, Text Collections, Research Guides, Faculty Collections and All Collections. Each collection has its own collection page including an introduction and the option to click and browse through to All items.

The tile Research Guides on the homepage gives you an overview of existing digital resources with information on collections (including those collections not (yet) digitized!): collection guides, inventories of archives and library catalogues.

When an item is free of copyright (from 70 years after the death of the creator) it is available for download. If an item is copyrighted then access is restricted: you can only view it onsite in the library. Access to so called Faculty Collections, materials exclusively intended for study purposes, is available to students and staff after signing in with their ULCN-account. A special procedure is in place for scholars who wish to consult collections containing sensitive private information (such as interview collections).

The digital renderings in Digital Collections are presented in different formats. Some books and documents are only available in PDF. You can view these with a PDF viewer.

High resolution scans can be viewed in book-format (using “View”) or in page-format (using “Pages”).

Each work is assigned a ‘handle’: a persistent url to the online location of the item, which you can use in publications and on websites. The handle can be found under Description, the right-hand button showing the chain icon.

If copyright permits or has expired then an item is assigned a download option. This download option can be found under the left-hand button showing the download icon. This button indicates which parts of the item you can download and in which format: PDF, JPEG in medium resolution or a transcription.

You can use all non-copyrighted images freely with a CC-BY-licence. Read more on the webpage on reproductions.

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