Search help

There are various ways of searching the database:

  • simple searching by using the Quick search box
  • more complex searching by using the Advanced search facility
  • searching by subject categories by using the Subject search facility

If you do not wish to do a specific search then you can Browse the database.

Quick search

Simply type your search term in the Quick search box. RIBApix will find all occurrences of your search term wherever it appears in the record/s. e.g. typing in the term ‘stirling’ will return all those records which contain the word ‘stirling’ whether it be James Stirling the architect or Stirling in Scotland.

You can build more complex search questions using the following elements:

Boolean operators

The Boolean operators (and/or/not) enable you to combine separate search terms to create more complex search queries. Only records that meet the full search question are displayed:

  • A search for “churches AND concrete” finds items with both the words churches and concrete in their records.
  • A search for “churches OR concrete” finds items with either churches or concrete in their records.
  • A search for “churches concrete“ assumes AND and will therefore return the same search results as above.
  • A search for “churches NOT concrete” finds items with churches excluding those records that include concrete in their records.


You can use parenthesis to organize the order in which the parts of the search are made:

  • A search for “(London OR Durham) AND cathedral“ finds items with cathedrals either in Durham or London.


% can be used as a wildcard to, for example, locate part of a term:

  • light% will find records with words starting with light e.g. lighting.
  • %light will find records with words ending in light e.g. fanlight.
  • %light% will find records with words containing light e.g. floodlighting.

Advanced search

If you already know some details of the image you are seeking then you can find it more quickly by using the Advanced search. This allows you to restrict your search to particular fields. A description of the fields and their contents is given below.

Some fields (Designer, Artist, Country, View, Style, Medium, Colour/B&W) are picklists where you must choose the term you wish to search on from the existing list. In other fields you may type in words or phrases you wish to search on. You may also use the % wildcard to help you.

For example picking ‘Stirling, Sir James (1926–1992)’ from the list in the Designer field will only find those records where Stirling is the architect or designer.

You may enter search terms in several different fields to do combination searches. For example if you pick ‘UK: England’ from the list in the Country field, ‘Art Deco’ from the list in the Style field and the ‘B&W’ option from the Colour/B&W field this will find images in black and white of Art Deco buildings or artefacts in England. If you wish to search by a combination of any of the fields in Advanced search and a subject listed in our Subject search facility, please see the relevant section below.

Once you have done a search and obtained a retrieved list of items, you may refine your search and search within your retrieved list by clicking on the Refine search button.

Searching by date

If you wish to search by a specific date enter it into both the From date and To date fields.

You may also search by date ranges. Entering a From date will find everything from that year and after. Entering a To date will find everything from that year and before. Entering dates in both the From and To fields will create a date range and will find any items that fall within that range.

Use the Reset button to reset the fields to their default settings.

Description of the fields

Ref No

All pictures have been given a reference number. When ordering a copy of a picture this is the number you need to quote.


Most titles have been specially constructed to give readily intelligible descriptions of what the picture depicts. Where the picture has an original title which has not been used this has been recorded in the Notes field under Original Title.


Contains the full name and dates of the architect/designer responsible for the subject portrayed in the image. This is done in the form Lutyens, Sir Edwin Landseer (1869–1944).


Contains the full name and dates of the artist responsible for the creation of the image in the same form as above.


Details the country where the subject of the image is located. All United Kingdom countries are prefixed by UK eg UK: Scotland. Only the current names of countries are used and names are entered in their anglicized form eg Italy not Italia.


Details the town/city where the subject of the image is located. Only current names are used eg Beijing not Peking and names are entered in their anglicized form eg Vienna not Wien.

Subject Date

Records the date of completion of the subject of the image. Where it is not possible to be exact, date ranges are given.

Image Date

Records the date the image was made. Where it is not possible to be exact, date ranges are given.


Records the type of view e.g. whether it is an interior or exterior.


Notes the style of the subject depicted. Obviously such style headings are often open to debate but they have been included where possible as an aid to those who wish to search for images of Art Deco, Gothic etc.


Records the medium of the image. The types of media used have been kept deliberately broad to reflect the types of search that would most commonly be made. Transparency means any transparency larger than 35mm.


Records whether the image is in colour or black and white. All forms of monochrome images such as sepia are listed as black and white.

Credit (NB this field does not appear in Advanced search)

Details the credit line you must use if the picture is published. Failure to use this in the form specified will result in a penalty fee being charged.

Notes (NB this field does not appear in Advanced search)

Detailed here are any Original Title of the picture; the Source, if any,it has been taken from e.g. a book or periodical; and Notes giving further information about the image.

Subjects (NB this section does not appear in Advanced search)

Lists the keywords assigned to the image. All images have been assigned a keyword or keywords from a predefined list. The terms used have been based upon the British Architectural Library&rsquot;s own Architectural Keywords (London: RIBA Publications, 1982) and subsequent amendments and on the Art and Architecture Thesaurus 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). Both broader and narrower terms have been included. A full list of the keywords used is given in Subject search.

Searching by subject

Each image has one or more keywords assigned to it which describe an attribute or property of the image. You can search for images using these keywords.

In our Subject search facility the keywords are organized in both a hierarchical structure and in a straight A – list. If you click on Subjects you may search either on a broader term by choosing the relevant folder name e.g. Transport or a narrower term e.g. Railway stations which can be found by clicking on the Transport folder icon. Clicking on the folder icons displays all the narrower subject terms contained within that folder heading.

In Subjects A–Z all the keywords are listed in a non-hierarchical, straightforward alphabetical list. Simply click on the relevant one to begin your search.

Combining subject searching with searching by other fields

If you wish to search by subject and one of the fields in Advanced search – e.g. find for me images of airports in France – you must do this in two stages. Firstly do your subject search on airports as explained above. Once you have a retrieved list click on the Refine Search button. This will bring up the Advanced search page. Click on France in the Country picklist. This institutes a search on your existing retrieved list of airport images and will return only airports in France. Please note that in order to do this type of combination search you must do the subject search first.

Previous Searches

The Previous Searches page details all the searches you have performed within the current session in a chronological list. To view the results of a search simply click on the link.

Please note that when you log out of RIBApix details of your previous searches will be lost.


Features are collections of images that have been grouped together on particular themes for your convenience. A feature is represented initially by a thumbnail image and a title.

To view the full details of a feature, click on the thumbnail. This links to an item page detailing that feature. To view a gallery containing all the items that constitute a feature, click on the View button on the Related items page.

Sample features can be found on the Home page.