Search Help and FAQ

There are various options available to aid in searching across Open Collections records:

Basic Search

  • Entering anything in the main search box will search across all digital record information, with results weighted to give you the most relevant first.
  • Using double quotes around search terms will match the phrase exactly, so if – for example – searching Social History gives too many results, searching “Social History” may help, and vice versa.
  • Using double quotes around search terms separated by OR (e.g. “Glasgow” OR “Edinburgh”) will search for any of the terms you list – you can use OR to separate as many terms as you wish.
  • Using the asterisk character (*) on its own in the main search box acts as a wildcard and will return all results. The asterisk can also be used as part of a search term – e.g. searching Kil* returns results relating to Kilmacolm, Killearn, Kilgarren, etc.

Advanced Search

  • Clicking the Advanced Search link next to the main search box will show options to perform more complex queries. You can search across individual information fields like Institutions, Tags, and Categories.
  • Double quotes, asterisks, and the OR operator can both be used in any of the advanced search text boxes. Checkbox options will search across any of the checked terms by default.


  • Q. I know you have this item, why can’t I find it?
    A. If you have followed the advice in the basic and advanced search sections above, it’s probably because the record for that object has not been provided to opencollections yet.
  • Q. Do you have information on all items in partners’ collections?
    A. No. We have all the available records from The Hunterian, we have digitised records for the film collection from the NLS Moving Image Archive (but not written, printed or photographic records) and records for substantial parts of Glasgow Museums collections.
  • Q. Will information be added to opencollections?
    A. Yes. When new or updated records are created by any of the partner institutions, they are automatically flagged to opencollections.
  • Q. Do you know when new records will be added?
    A. No. All partners have ongoing programmes of adding and updating their records and we check for new records every week.
  • Q. Why do some records not have images?
    A. Not all objects have been photographed, however, each partner has an ongoing programme of photography and when new images are created they are flagged automatically to opencollections.
  • Q. Can I see only records with images?
    A. Yes. Click on ‘image’ under Media in the Refine Search menu. Alternatively, check the ‘image’ box in the Advanced Search dialog.
  • Q. Why do I see strange symbols or characters in some records?
    A. The records in opencollections represent decades of cataloguing by different curators, using different systems and standards. Partners are cleaning their records and updated information will automatically be added to opencollections.
  • Q. Why are there duplicate categories e.g. mineralogy/petrology and nh:geology:minerals?
    A. This reflects the different ways partners have categorised their records. If you click on Browse Collections we have grouped commonly searched items together.
  • Q. What does the abbreviation nh mean in Category/Type?
    A. This is an abbreviation for Natural History used in Glasgow Museums collections.
  • Q. Why are there so many Latin terms?
    A. Large numbers of items are from zoology, palaeontology and anatomy collections where Latin names are traditionally used.
  • Q. I think I’ve found an error or have additional information who do I contact?
    A. When looking at an individual Item Details page, click on ‘Enquire about item information or request correction/removal’.
  • Q. Can I go and see an object?
    A. Usually yes. When looking at an individual Item Details page, click on ‘Enquire about physical viewing of this item’.