A Guide to Searching Archive and Library Collections at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre 

Illustration of archive hierarchy from collection (the highest level) through series (a set of items within a collection) to Item

This is a step-by-step guide to searching the library and archive collections held at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre.  

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback on this guide, please send them to [email protected].  

1. Our Collections 

The unique library and archive collections at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre tell the story of race, migration and anti-racist activism in Greater Manchester, the UK and beyond.  

Our Library Collection contains more than 16,000 books, pamphlets, reports and journals on topics including history, politics, culture and identity, gender, and the arts. 

Our Archive Collections contain paper documents, photographs, flyers, posters, born digital material and much more. This material documents the history of global majority, migrant and refugee communities, particularly within Greater Manchester and the North West.  

We also have hundreds of Oral Histories which record people from global majority, migrant or refugee backgrounds speaking about their memories and experiences in their own words. Oral histories are included in both library and archive collections. 

More information, including summaries of key archive and oral history collections, can be found on our University website.  

2. Getting Started 

he best way to search for books, archives and other records from our collections is by using the dedicated Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre search page on the Manchester Libraries website. 

The page can be accessed or shared using this link: https://manchester.spydus.co.uk/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/MSGTRNGEN/WPAC/AIU?HOMEPRMS=UD_AIUPARAMS 

It looks like this: 

Manchester Libraries Ahmed Iqbal Ullah search page

Use the search bar in the centre of the page to search RACE Centre library and archive collections.  

The other search bar (at the top right) can be used to search for library items from across all Manchester Libraries locations but does not include archive collections.  

The drop-down menu to the left of the search bar can be used to limit your search. You can choose between searching anywhere, or by title, creator, or subject. These options can be useful if you are looking for a specific book or journal, or for books written by a specific author. 

3. Searching by Keyword 

If you don’t know the title, or are looking for items related to a particular theme, topic, or research subject, use ‘anywhere’ in the drop down menu to search all library and archive collections by keyword. 

Just type one or more words into the search box, and press search. 

To search for a phrase, type double quotation marks around the phrase. You can combine words and phrases in a single search. 

For example, to search for South Asian migration as a single phrase, type the following into the search box: “South Asian migration” 

Note: If you do not use quotation marks the system will search for all occurrences of the words south, Asian, and migration, regardless of whether they are next to each other or not. 

There are lots of useful guides to effectively conducting keyword searches of databases and library catalogues available online, including this one from the UCL (University College London) website: https://library-guides.ucl.ac.uk/searching-information/searching

4. Sorting and filtering your search results 

Search result page for 'Anywhere: "south Asian migration" (keywords) and public tag:gb3228 (keywords)' showing several book listings

Use the ‘sort by’ option to the top right of your search results to change the order of your results. You can sort by title or by date. 

Use the ‘Filter results’ column to the left of the screen to refine your search results. You can filter results in different ways, including by type, language, date, creator, topic, place, and form/genre. 

Filtering by type is particularly useful as this allows you to view only library items or only archive collections, depending on what you select. 

To filter by type, click the arrow next to ‘Type’ in the ‘Filter results’ column, and select either ‘Bibliographic’ to view library items only, or ‘Archival Description’ to view archives. 

5. Looking at results in more detail 

Click on a record’s title to bring up a detailed record page with more details about the book, item, or archival record, including how to access it. This page includes different information depending on whether you are looking at a library item or an archival record. 

a. The detailed record page: library items 

For library items, the detailed record page looks like this: 

Top part of detailed record page for Asian Britain: a photographic history.

The detailed record page includes a short summary of the item, as well as details such as the title, author, and publication details. The ‘Find it!’ box at the top right allows you to see whether the item is currently available (by clicking ‘availability by location’) and gives you the option to reserve it. 

Scroll down to view further details including the classification number (sometimes called ‘local class’ and used to locate the item on the library shelves), language, and subject. 

The detailed record page also includes a ‘Bookmark link’. This is a stable version of the URL which allows you to return to the detailed record page later. 

bottom of detailed record page for Asian Britain: a photographic history showing bookmark link

If you want to save the address of a specific item or record, or share it with somebody else, make sure that you use the ‘Bookmark link’ NOT the URL in the address bar at the top of the page. 

This is because the URL in the address bar will time out after you finish your session. 

b. The detailed record page: archival records 

Searching for archives is a little more complex than searching for library items. 

When you search for library items, each result refers to an individual item, normally a book. 

When you search for archives, results could be individual items, or archive collections, or series (sub-categories within archive collections). We call these archival records

Illustration of archive hierarchy from collection (the highest level) through series (a set of items within a collection) to Item

For example, a keyword search for the phrase “Moss Side uprisings”, filtered to show archival records only, gives 8 results: a mixture of individual items, series, and collections. 

Screenshot of  keyword search for the phrase “Moss Side uprisings”, filtered to show archival records only, showing two of the items found

Click on any record’s title to view more information about it on its detailed record page. This includes basic information such as title, creator, and date. 

Detailed record page for 'A Report into the Moss Side uprisings produced by the fact-finding committee, a branch of the Moss Side Defence Committee

It also includes a reference number, which you should make a note of if you want to access the record, as this is used by archival staff to locate the record. 

The detailed record page also provides information about the level of description. You can use this to work out whether the record is an item, series or collection, and (if it’s an item or a series) what collection it comes from. 

In the example above, we can see that the record is an item from a collection called the Elouise Edwards Collection, and that within that collection it is part of a series called Policing, Education and Uprisings. 

Screen shot of the top level page for the Eloise Edwards Collection

Clicking on the collection title allows you to view the detailed record page for the whole collection. This top-level page shows basic information about the collection, including a summary of its contents. 

You can navigate from the collection record to similar pages for each of the series contained within the collection, by clicking the hyperlink under ‘includes’ in the left-hand column. 

Similarly, it’s possible to navigate from each series record to pages for each of the items contained within the series. 

As with library items, if you scroll down on any archival record page you will see a ‘Bookmark link’. This is a stable version of the URL which should be used if you want to share the page or save the address to revisit it later. Don’t use the URL in the address bar as this will time out.