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Finding and using books and theses

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Searching for ebooks

For a quick introduction to ebooks, visit the Understanding ebooks page.

Use Library Search to find ebooks by:

  • Title or title keyword
  • Author name
  • Subject keyword

Visit the ebooks page to browse through different ebook collections. For example, Oxford Reference contains subject dictionaries such as A Dictionary of Law and A Dictionary of Social Work and Social Care. The Very Short Introductions collection outlines topics from African History and Art Theory to Waves, Weather and Witchcraft.

Reading ebooks

  • Ebooks will usually open in your web browser. Some titles might ask you to download special software before you can view them.
  • Ebooks usually contain a table of contents page with links to each chapter. It is also possible to search some ebooks by keyword.
  • Although multiple readers can access many of the ebooks in our collections, some titles might only admit one reader at a time. Try again later if an ebook appears to be unavailable.
  • Many ebooks are only available online. There is often no facility to download a title in a format that is compatible with ebook readers.
  • Some ebooks are limited to a certain number of users at one time. If you cannot access an ebook, try again later as the ebook may already be used by the maximum number of users.
  • Many ebooks include a help page with useful tips and hints.

Downloading and printing from ebooks

Please check the guidance on our Copying and download policy page before copying content from an ebook.

As a general rule, copyright law allows us to copy or print one chapter or 5% of an ebook. Some collections will limit the amount of text that can be copied or printed.

Searching for theses online

Visit the open access Open Research Online (ORO) collection to find theses written by Open University postgraduate students. Search by keyword or choose 'Browse' to find an option to view theses by qualification.

Visit the British Library's Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS) to find doctoral theses written by students at other universities in the United Kingdom.

Many universities have open access research collections like ORO. Visit the Registry of Open Access Repositories website to find a list of links. Alternatively, visit the Sherpa Services website to search for repositories.

Getting print materials

  • Join the SCONUL Access Scheme if you’d like to borrow printed books from participating university libraries. The Scheme is open to students currently studying a module of 30 credits or more and members of staff.
  • Members of staff, Open University students who can conveniently visit Milton Keynes, and SCONUL Access students and staff from other universities may borrow from our collection of printed books. Visit Borrowing at the Walton Hall Library page for more information.
  • We hold a collection of printed theses written by Open University postgraduate students. Members of staff and research students may borrow a consultation copy of a thesis. Please contact the Library Helpdesk at least 24-hours before a visit giving author and title details of the thesis you'd like to borrow.
  • Members of staff and research students may also request theses that cannot be supplied by EThOS though our Document Delivery service.