How to Find Nuffield’s Official Publications

This post will tell you all about how to locate official/government publications at Nuffield College Library.

The Collection

The library has a large collection of British and international official publications, both historical and contemporary. 

British: The collection includes a sizeable proportion of the important Committees and Enquiries of the 19th century and a set of Hansard covering the years 1909 (House of Commons) and 1910 (House of Lords) to the 2002/03 session. The library has purchased all House of Commons Papers and all Command Papers on microfiche from the 1994/95-2002/03 session and holds a number of earlier papers in hard copy.  In addition, the library acquires a wide selection of non-parliamentary publications representing the various areas of interest among college members.

International: A number of major international bodies are well-represented in the collection: the European Union, UN, OECD, IMF, ILO, FAO, EFTA, World Bank, World Health Organization, and GATT/WTO. Major statistical series are taken from these sources as well as other material relevant to current research within college. The collection concentrates on the EU (particularly Western Europe) and the United States, although there is a significant amount of material relating to less developed nations. 

Location & Layout

Almost all official publications at Nuffield are found in the library extension (located at the bottom of L Staircase). They are split into three sequences: reference material, British official publications and international official publications. Maps on top of the card catalogue provide more details on this layout.

The extension has a few desks and a reader workstation from which electronic resources can be accessed. Any printouts can be collected from the main library.

A small number of official publications are held in the main library. Hansard indexes to the parliamentary debates for both the Commons and the Lords are available on the ground floor, along with parliamentary papers on microfiche. 

Access & Borrowing

The extension is unstaffed, but checked every weekday by a member of library staff. External readers may request material in the main library and we will fetch it. Members of college can access the extension at any time using their room key.

If you have borrowing privileges at Nuffield, you may borrow official publications.

Navigating the Collection

Since 1992, newly acquired extension items have been catalogued electronically and placed onto OLIS. We are gradually retro-cataloguing, but for material received before 1992, you should also consult the card catalogue.

Catalogues and indexes serve as guides to finding official publications and are kept by the entrance to the extension. Their shelfmarks begin with “X Ref”. 

Interpreting Shelfmarks

British official publication monographs are shelved first by general theme, such as ‘Population’ or ‘Welfare’, and then classified more precisely within that subject using a number. Classification guides can be found at the beginning of the relevant section and on top of the card catalogue.

Example: X Welfare 2:2 for the book “Using child benefit in the family budget”
X – indicates that the item is found in the Extension
Welfare – indicates the major theme of the item
2:2 – indicates a specific area within the theme (child welfare)

A ‘q’ in the shelfmark denotes that it is a larger item shelved with the quarto sequence – that is, on the bottom two shelves, below regular-sized items.

British periodicals are shelved separately and found before the monographs. Their shelfmarks do not have a subject division. Rather, they simply have “Per” for periodical and an identifying letter (usually the first letter of the title of the periodical). For instance, X Per A is “Annual Abstract of Statistics”.

International official publication monographs are organised alphabetically by an acronym for the publishing organisation. They are generally further subdivided by subject code and year of publication. For example, X ILO LAB 08 for “The global employment challenge” published by the International Labour Organization on the subject of labour in 2008. Please see details in the relevant sections or on top of the card catalogue.

The amount and type of material for each international organisation varies, but when they exist quarto monographs appear after regular-sized monographs. Periodicals, if present, are shelved after the monograph sequence. 

Website & Help

The official publications part of the Nuffield College Library website ( lists and annotates a variety of online resources related to official publications. We have collected websites that provide direct access to official publications and compiled sites that explain official publications. These pages are regularly updated.

If you are having any trouble, please speak to staff in the main library. Official publications can be confusing and we are very happy to help you make sense of them!


About Nuffield College Library

We are a social sciences library serving Nuffield College and the University of Oxford
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