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Virtual reference library

Accessing the resources

You can access a range of free online reference resources using your library membership.  You will need a Gloucestershire library card with a number that starts with 77 e.g. 771234123x or 7712341234. If your card has a different pattern of numbering please contact The Library.

You will need your library number and PIN number to access most of these services.  If you have forgotten your PIN and have an email address registered on your account you can re-set your PIN online.

Click here to reset your Library PIN  

If you do not have an email address registered on your account or have any queries please Contact the Library.

Some resources can be accessed from anywhere using library membership, while others can only be accessed from a library computer.  Please see details below.


Temporary access from home

The following resources are currently available from home for Gloucestershire Libraries customers.

Ancestry - family history database that includes census, military and immigration records.  Temporary access from home is currently available to Gloucestershire parish and electoral registers, wills and other probate records, gaol registers and some transportation records.  To create a free account go to ‘Sign In’ from the home page in the top right hand corner (not subscribe).  Underneath the green ‘Sign In’ button, click on ‘sign up today for free’.  Create an account by entering your details.  Accept the terms and conditions and click on the green ‘Continue’ button.

If you are using a library computer, please click here to access the Ancestry.


Other resources available anywhere via library membership:

Gale Databases – access to the Times Digital Archive which includes over 200 years of The Times newspaper. Login using your library card number.

 Access to other historical newspaper titles continues to be available from the British Newspaper Archive via library computers.

Newsbank - access to news articles from across the world.  Newsbank is a comprehensive collection of reliable news sources covering a wide array of topics and issues.  It also provides full text and image editions of local, regional, national and international newspapers, magazines, blogs and journals.  Login using your library card number. 

To read individual NewsBank titles, please go to the Online newspapers

GoCitizen - the online study resource for candidates preparing for the Life in the UK or British Citizenship test.  It provides the online version of the latest official study materials licensed from the Home Office.   The first time you use the site you will need to register using your name, email address and a password.  If you sign up from home you will also need your library card number.

Theory Test Pro - a highly realistic online simulation of the UK’s driving theory tests for all vehicles.  It contains all the official test questions licensed from the DVSA, plus an online version of the Highway Code and realistic hazard perception video simulations.  The first time you use the site you will need to register using your name, email address and a password.  If you sign up from home you will also need your library card number.

Naxos Music Library – a specialist music resource giving access to over two million tracks and a database of music reference information.  Searchable opera, chamber music, concertos, ballet, world, jazz and pop and rock music.  There is also a music dictionary and various articles on music.   Login using your library card number. 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - a searchable database of over 60,000 biographies, 72 million words and 11,000 portraits those who shaped British history from the Romans to the 21st century.  Login using your library card number.

Oxford Reference - access to 25 different subjects, including archaeology, history, literature, music, science and technology, law, religion and medicine and health.  It contains over two million entries from Oxford University’s Dictionaries, Companions and Encyclopaedias.  Login using your library card number. 

BFI Screen Online - the definitive online guide to Britain’s film and television history.  Browse different genres of film and television history or search for a particular film, actor or programme.  Also includes timelines of British film and television history, UK film statistics and the encyclopaedia of British film.   No login required for this site. 

John Johnson Collection - an archive of printed ephemera from the Bodleian Library in Oxford offering  unique insights into the changing nature of life in Britain in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.   To login go to login option ‘Public Library Users’ and enter your library card number and click ‘Login’.


Resources that can be accessed from any Gloucestershire library via library membership:

Ancestry - family history database that includes census, military and immigration records. This is the full version of the database providing access to all geographic content and records

Findmypast – a family history database that includes birth, marriage and death records, census data (dating back to 1841), electoral registers and land tax documents. 

1921 Census
Full details of the Census are only available as a pay-per-view option via Findmypast personal accounts. However, it is possible search the 1921 Census and view limited results via the Gloucestershire Libraries (or Gloucestershire Archives) subscription. Search results show the names of those matching the search, plus hovering the mouse over the transcription link displays a few other names in that census record.

Free access to the 1921 Census on Findmypast is available for visitors to the National Archives in Kew, Manchester Central Library and the National Library of Wales.

Access to Research - provides free access to over 30 million academic articles from leading publishers.  Subjects include art, architecture, business, engineering, history, languages, politics and the sciences. 

British Newspaper Archive - contains around 3 million pages of newspaper content from 742 local, regional and national newspapers dating from the 1700s.


Resources that can be accessed from Cheltenham and Gloucester Libraries:

Which? Online - is the online version of the famous Which? magazine.  It has a search facility or browse a range of categories from mobile phones to pushchairs.

Resources that can be accessed from Gloucester Library:

FAME - a business database and provides comprehensive information on both public and private companies across the UK and Ireland.  For more information about FAME go to:

If you cannot get to Cheltenham or Gloucester Libraries to access these resources, please contact our Ask Us Reference and Enquiry Service. Our Ask Us team will be happy to help with your enquiry. 

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