A Central Search Portal for European Library Materials

[tweetmeme source=”Intellogist” only_single=false] Patent searchers  may need to scour the earth for prior art when a case is very important and the traditional channels haven’t turned up the desired results. In these case, the searcher often tries to locate a central portal that searches a wide range of non-patent literature of all publication types and languages.  WorldCat searches the holdings of over 10,000 libraries and can often return an overload of search results that takes hours to sift through.  The Library of Congress (LOC) website allows users to specifically search the library catalogs and digital holding of the LOC, but what if the user wants to search for non-US materials not included in LOC holdings?  Is there a federated search platform dedicated to a non-US region that searches across the holdings of multiple libraries? Yes, there is!

Information Today recently reported on the European Library website, the library aggregator for Europeana (which was “developed in partnership among the Conference of European National Libraries (CENL), the Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER), and the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL)”).   The article describes the broad coverage and useful features of the portal:

The European Library is a new discovery service that provides access to the collections of the national libraries of 46 European countries, plus a growing number of research libraries. Content accessible from the new service includes rare books, manuscripts, images, and video. The service allows users to cross-search 200 million records, covering more than 24 million pages of full-text information and more than 7 million digital objects. Users can export records to reference management services such as Mendeley.

Continue reading to hear about all the search and display features available through European Library, and how you can register for the site for free!

How to Register for European Library

Registration is free for the European Library website, and registered users gain access to the following features:

  • Save searches and run them at any time.
  • Access basic statistics about your search.
  • Enable authority search. Search the joint authority files from VIAF, GeoNames, MACS.
  • Enable additional features on an item level. You can get a preview of the original metadata and verify the enrichments done by The European Library.

Search and Display Features

Users can select the interface language for the portal from a drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the homepage. As of July 2012, 36 language options are available. From the homepage, users can access three search/browse options:

  • Basic Search – A basic keyword search form is available on the homepage and at the top of all pages of the site. Users can enter keywords or phrases into this form to search through all available records.
  • Advanced Search – Users can select the “Advanced search” link beside the basic search form to view a fielded search form with four available text boxes. Each text box is adjacent to two drop-down menus, from which users can select a field (title, creator, subject, or collection type) and a qualifier (must contain, must not contain, should contain). Users can also select library contributors and language of the record from drop-down menus on the advanced search form. Finally, users can enter a range of publication years.

The simple and advanced search options on European Library.

  • Discover – Users may select the “Discover” link from the top horizontal menu to browse records by discipline, content language, or date of publication. On the “Discover” page, users can also browse through library contributors and collections.

On the search results page, users can view the results organized under various tabs, such as “Everything,” “Full Text” (which also displays bolded keywords in context), and “Remote Search.” 20 records are originally displayed per page, and you can select the “more records” link to view additional results. Results in the list include the title, contributor, creator, publication place and date, and a link to the record on the original contributor’s website. Result lists can be printed, emailed, shared via social media and bookmarking sites, sent to Citeulike, and the query can also be converted to an RSS feed. Through a side menu beside the search results, users may:

  • Save the search.
  • Search within the results.
  • Filter by accessibility, discipline, language, contributor, or collection (select the down arrow to expand a list of top options).
  • Filter using a timeline displaying years of publication.
  • Filter via country of collection.
  • View lists of results found on outside sites, such as Europeana and Mendeley.

Search results (and the limiter menu) on European Library.

Select the record title to view the full record on European Library. The full record includes:

  • A map displaying the location of contributor.
  • Citation, description, and bibliographic data (contributor, publication information, language, collection, type, identifier number, and since what date the record was available).
  • A link to the document record on the original contributor website.
  • Options to add the record to Mendeley or Zotero.
  • A menu of icons to print, email, add to Citeulike, or share the record via various social media and bookmarking cites.
  • A list of subjects related to the record (select a subject to view a list of all records relevant to that subject).
  • Any similar records.

A full document record on European Library.

For registered users, the “My Research” section allows users to view a list of saved searches, reading lists, personal details about your account, and API details.


You certainly won’t find a comprehensive listing of all available non-patent literature (NPL) citations from Europe through the European Library, since the platform only searches the holdings of a limited number of libraries.  The search options available on the site are rather limited, since only seven fields are available in the advanced search platform and no command line search option is available.  The limiter menu is relatively advanced, however, for a free search platform, and the smooth user interface makes the system a breeze to use.  Like WorldCat and the LOC website, the European Library portal may not be a completely comprehensive database of all NPL, but it is one more tool to add to the list of possible non-patent literature resources during an exhaustive prior art search.

Do you know of any other regional federated search platforms for non-patent literature? Tell us about them in the comments!

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


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