Say hello to an improved SOLO (August 2023)

Frontpage of SOLO showing the search box and at the top options to Browse, get help, do a new search.

[The following has been shamelessly borrowed and adapted from the original HFL blogpost. See their blogpost for guidance on using the new SOLO with Radcliffe Camera and Old Bodleian collections.]

Today (24 August 2023) we upgraded to a new library system. Most of the changes are ‘behind the scenes’ but we have also taken the opportunity to make some changes to some aspects of SOLO. For instance, we have made it easier for you to discover and locate physical copies of books and be able to tell whether you can borrow or consult a copy within a specific library.

Below are some key changes which are of interest to historians. See also the full list of changes and guidance on using SOLO (LibGuide).

[TIP = Please clear the cache in any web browsers you have previously used to access SOLO to ensure you are viewing the latest version.]

Easier to see all copies of a book held in the VHL

You will now see all copies listed under Vere Harmsworth Library where there are multiple copies of an item on the site.

A screenshot of the SOLO catalogue, showing that the VHL has two copies of the book Gilded by Deborah Davis.

This example shows that two copies of the same title are held in the VHL.


You will now need to sign into SOLO to see borrowing options 

If you are not signed into SOLO you will only see whether an item is available or not, rather than whether an item can be borrowed or for how long. It is always best to sign first as you get a better service from SOLO.

Once signed in you will now see loan periods personalised to you 

The terminology for loan policies has also been improved to make it clearer how long you can borrow the book for. (e.g. 7 days; 2 days etc). Please note that you can only borrow from libraries where you are a member, for example, the Bodleian Libraries and your college library.

Take the two copies of Gilded: how Newport became America’s richest resort by Deborah Davis (2009) shown in the example above If we click on each individual copy, we can see one title is a lending copy (Loanable) and one copy is not (Use in Library Only).

A screenshot of SOLO, the Library catalogue, showing that one VHL copy of Gilded by Deborah Davis, is available to borrow as a Vacation Loan.

An example of a loanable copy – in this example, available to borrow for the Vacation period.

A screenshot of SOLO, the Library catalogue, showing that one VHL copy of Gilded by Deborah Davis, has the status Use in Library Only.

The same title, but now showing a non-lending copy, with the status Use in Library Only.


Check for available copies before requesting from offsite 

To try to help you avoid reserving and waiting for a book out on loan when there are copies already available on library shelves for you to fetch immediately, we have added this additional message to SOLO:

 Before requesting, check for 'item in place' copies - it will be quicker for you to fetch it from the shelf than to wait for a request


Bodleian Libraries lending copies will auto renew for up to 112 days – unless somebody else places a hold. Find out more about the Bodleian Libraries’ borrowing policy.

Book already on loan? Place a hold request!

If you want to borrow a loanable Bodleian Libraries book (which another reader already has on loan) we recommend you place a hold request via SOLO If you don’t place a request, the book will continue to renew automatically for the original reader.  

If you have a book on loan, you will be notified via email if it has been requested.

Alternatively, look for another copy, including one which can be used in the library (Use in Library Only).

Request a VHL Stack item

You can also use the hold request to get books from the Vere Harmsworth Stack, including historical material and theses. You will receive a notification once the book has been moved to the VHL Staff Desk, and is available for you to consult. Note that you will need to read any Vere Harmsworth Stack titles in the Reading Room only.

A screenshot of SOLO, the Library catalogue, showing The tour of James Monroe, President of the United States, in the year 1817, by Samuel Putnam Waldo. The Location information shows the the item is from the VHL Stack. There is a Green Request Button and a Blue Scan and Deliver button.

A VHL book currently held in the VHL Stack – use the green Request button to place a hold on the title and read it in the Reading Room. Or, use the Blue Scan and Deliver button to place a Scan request.

More information how to use SOLO is at SOLO LibGuide.

LibraryScan streamlined with Scan & Deliver service 

The LibraryScan service has now been streamlined with the existing Scan & Deliver service (for items in offsite storage) into a new integrated service. If scanning is an option for any type of item you will now just see the ‘Scan & Deliver’ button.

The Scan & Deliver request form has been improved, particularly the wording on how much you can have scanned (not the whole book!) including advice that you can ask for the index or table of contents in addition to your final choice of chapter.

Requesting items from other libraries, beyond Oxford

If we do not hold an item in Oxford it is now really easy to request an item from other libraries, beyond Oxford. Simply click on ‘Need more?’ from the menu at the top of the page and fill in the form.

Help & support

If you need any help, please do get in touch with library staff who will be more than happy to help you. Here is how you can contact us:

Your feedback matters

We have undertaken extensive testing of the new version of SOLO, gathering feedback from 80 students using the system in real-world situations, and consulting widely on the borrowing changes (see link above). However, we recognise that not everything will be perfect from the start, and development will continue. We are using this feedback form to gather feedback on the changes to SOLO, which will help us make further improvements.