Exploring official publications

Official publications are the literature which emanates from official organisations such as national or regional governments or international organisations.  Nuffield Library has a large collection of British and international official publications, both historical and contemporary.  It covers a broad range of subjects, from agriculture to welfare, with a large amount on employment, economic development, sociology and social inequality. Official publications may be useful to your research because they provide official statistics and impartial data from institutions with a long research history.

British: The collection includes a sizeable proportion of the important Committees and Enquiries of the 19th and 20th centuries.  In addition, the library regularly acquires a wide selection of government department, parliamentary and non-parliamentary publications representing the various areas of interest among college members.  More recently this has included items from organisations such as the Institute for Public Policy Research, Institute for Government and Policy Exchange.

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.  There is also some interesting historical material from the League of Nations.


The majority of official publications at Nuffield are found in the Library Extension.  The exceptions to this are new additions to the collection, which are displayed on the New Books shelves in the Current Affairs Room on the first floor of the main Library and on shelves in the Small Reading Room.

These titles are included in the monthly publication updates, one on British and one on European & international material, which are emailed to registered readers, both internal and external.  The updates also contain information about and links to relevant news, publications and websites including the annual budget documents, economic & political developments and Scottish referendum material.  See the latest ones here: Brit Feb 2014 Pub UpdateEuro and Int Feb 2014 Pub Update

Shelfmarks explained

There are in-depth guides to the different classifications used in the Extension but here are brief examples for the main collections:

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.  For example: a book on using child benefit in the family budget:

X Welfare 2:2              X=Extension, Welfare=major theme, 2:2 specific area 

International monographs (except the UN and US) generally share the same basic structure and are organised alphabetically by an acronym for the publishing organisation. They are generally further subdivided by subject code and year of publication:

X OECD EC 09               X=Extension, OECD=publishing organisation,
EC=subject area, 09=year of publication

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.  The monthly publication updates are also available here.


About Nuffield College Library

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