Update to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

60,302 people … 11,495 portraits … 72 million words … 2500 years of history.

On 27 November 2017 the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography will be updated with new content and an improved look and feel. 

Oxford DNB

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) online is provided free for State Library of Queensland members via the OneSearch catalogue. The ODNB is the national record of men and women who shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. The Dictionary offers concise, up-to-date biographies written by named, specialist authors. It is overseen by academic editors at Oxford University, UK, and published by Oxford University Press. The ODNB’s General Editor is Professor Sir David Cannadine.

The Dictionary was first published in 2004 in print (60 vols.) and online. Since 2005 the online edition has been updated every January, May, and September. The ODNB now includes biographies of 60,302 men and women who died in or before the year 2012—plus 536 ‘Theme’ articles for reference and research.

Just some of the famous lives included are Sir Winston Churchill (Prime Minister), Charles Darwin (naturalist, geologist, and originator of the theory of natural selection), Alexander Higgins (sportsman) , Ian Fleming (author) Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Ronald Biggs (criminal) and Captain James Cook (explorer).  Researchers can find names by Browsing, Themes, Search function, or random search Get a life!

The November 2017 updates will provide:

  • a fresh look and feel
  • improved search capabilities
  • enhanced discoverability

Any downtime?

There is no scheduled downtime; however, there may be unplanned issues as the sites switch over on launch day. Oxford University Press will work to minimise any issues that arise through this transition.

Changes will include:

  • a responsive design enabling seamless access across different formats
  • searching using a query builder, helping users get straight to the content they need
  • more frequent content updates
  • social media integration, so users can share content across channels
  • searching across multimedia, including images and podcasts where available, making it easier to find different types of content

New MARC records will be available for download directly from the sites once the sites migrate.

What do you have to do?

Once the updates are complete libraries should change their URLs and update their bookmarks. The domain URLs will remain the same, however the location of articles and pages within the domain site will change. As a result, re-directs will be implemented and Oxford expects the majority of articles to redirect, but libraries are asked to update any bookmarks to ensure a smooth transition. You can update the domain URLs now, but bookmarks to pages within the domain sites will need to be updated after the sites’ launch.


Will there be materials/training/webinars available?

Oxford University Press has offered to provide training and materials to ensure customers get the most out of the newly updated sites. For questions on training or to schedule a future training session, please contact the Oxford training teams directly at onlinetraining@oup.com .  For more information about the upgrade, visit information to cu­­s­­­­­­­tomers.

About the author

Karen Hind is Librarian, Public Library Partnerships, State Library of Queensland.