"UK RED is an open-access database housed at The Open University containing over 30,000 easily searchable records documenting the history of reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945". These records range from "published and unpublished sources as diverse as diaries, commonplace books, memoirs, sociological surveys, and criminal court and prison records" - working together to create a cohesive picture of the British reading experience between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries. "RED can be searched in two ways. By using the basic search option you can search for specific keywords or phrases across all text fields of the database. Alternatively, by using the advanced search options you can perform a more targeted search by entering terms or selecting values from as many fields as necessary". Each source has a detailed entry revealing the history of the work and the reading experience.
UK RED captures the reading tastes and habits of the famous and the ordinary, the young and the old, men and women. The texts range from books and newspapers to ephemera such as playbills and tickets, and from illuminated manuscripts, novels and poetry to tombstone inscriptions and graffiti.
Entries in UK RED illustrate the diversity of reading experience and practice as well as patterns within particular periods and across time. The evidence of reading is drawn from a multitude of sources, including diaries, memoirs, commonplace books, marginalia, sociological surveys, and criminal court and prison records.