Somerset County Council

Free Reference Online


You can access a range of free online reference sources which the library subscribes to. The services listed below are available from any public library in Somerset. 

If you are a registered library member you can also get free access to most of these services from home using your membership card number. 

Please note that Access to Research,  Ancestry, BFI Online and the John Johnson Collection can only be accessed in your local library.

Access to Research - Over 8,000 publicly funded scientific research journals available for anyone to read in the library. Subjects include art, architecture, business, engineering, history, languages, politics, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences.  (Free access available in all libraries)

Ancestry Library Edition - the leading online resource for family history research with thousands of sources of information of interest to family history researchers, with more than 1.5 billion names in over 4,000 collections.

It includes UK census records for 1841 to 1911 with images of the original records, birth, marriage and death indexes, UK and Ireland parish and probate records from the 1500s to the 1800s, and extensive US and other international sources. (Free access available in all libraries)

BFI Screen Online - An online encyclopaedia of British film and television, with video clips, interviews, articles, stills and posters. (Free access available in all libraries)

Britannica - this online version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica including the complete encyclopaedia as well as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, the Britannica Book of the Year and an Internet directory. (Free home access available with membership card number and in all libraries)

Britannica Online Academic Edition for 18+
Britannica Junior for 5 to 11 year olds

Britannica Student for 12 to 18 year olds

British Library 19th Century Newspaper Collection
- Explore over two million pages of nineteenth century newspapers, a great resource for family historians and anyone interested in social British history. Search facsimiles of 70 influential national and regional papers including the Bristol Mercury with adverts, notices for births, deaths and marriages, and other news of the time. (Free home access available with membership card number and in all libraries)

COBRA Complete Business Reference Adviser - offers opportunity profiles on specific trades or jobs, how-to guides, reports, checklists and fact sheets. It provides tools for tackling crucial aspects of business, including: compliance with rules and regulations, finding new customers, and business planning. (Free home access available with membership card number and in all libraries

John Johnson Collection - an archive of items from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera. The database provides access to rare primary source materials and evidence of Britain's cultural, social, industrial and technological heritage. (Free access available in all libraries)

Mint UK - Use Mint UK to find out more about companies – what they do, who runs them, how successful they are and look at their structure. You can also build lists for your sales and marketing campaigns, integrate Mint with your CRM system and enrich and refresh your own data..

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- online version - contains the stories of over 58,600 people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to those who died in the year 2009. (Free home access available with membership card number and in all libraries)

Oxford Dictionaries  - You can find guidance on writing reports, your CV or essays. It includes online dictionaries, thesauruses, help with pronunciation and writing skills, as well as word games and crosswords. (Free home access available with membership card number and in all libraries)

Oxford Digital Reference Shelf
- contains electronic editions of Oxford University Press scholarly reference titles in the Arts, Literature and Language, History and Culture, Science, and Social Sciences. Somerset Libraries have subscribed to a number of titles.
(Free home access is available with membership card number and in all libraries).

Titles Somerset has subscribed to are:

Encyclopedia of Global Change
Encyclopedia of Evolution
International Encyclopedia of Dance
The Oxford Classical Dictionary, third edition revised
The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature
The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History

Oxford English Dictionary Online
- free access to Oxford English Dictionary which is widely acknowledged to be the most authoritative and comprehensive dictionary in the world. It traces the evolution of more than 600,000 words through 2.5 million quotations from a wide range of sources - from classic literature and periodicals to film scripts and pop songs. (Free home access available with membership card number and in all libraries)


Contact: Libraries Direct
Phone: 0300 123 2224

Opening Hours: Monday 8am to 6pm, Tuesday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm, Saturday and Sunday closed.

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